Telstra, Terria reveal NBN bids

Telstra finally makes public a highly conditional bid for Australia's national broadband network

Telstra has revealed an A$5 billion, highly conditional bid for the Australian federal government's National Broadband Network project. The news came as the Terria broadband consortium announced that its key stakeholder Optus had lodged the group's bid.

Telstra outlined its proposal in a letter from chairman Don McGauchie to federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy made public today.

"Subject to various key enablers being in place, Telstra is ready to commit up to A$5 billion on an NBN capable of speeds of at least 25Mbit/s and up to 50Mbit/s in around 65% to 75% of the NBN footprint, and between 12 and 20 Mbit/s elsewhere in that footprint," McGauchie wrote.

But Telstra has stuck by its position that the NBN should not involve any move to structurally separate the company, also calling for fully secure bids and a 12-month extension to the period for which bids should remain open.

"Unfortunately, these issues have not yet been able to be addressed in a manner that would enable Telstra to submit its fully detailed bid under the RFP today," McGauchie said.

"However, in the spirit of making the government's vision a reality, Telstra has invested very considerable effort and skill to develop what I believe is a compelling proposition for the government's consideration."

Telstra's proposal also included plans for a A$29.95 per month 1 Mbit/s residential broadband service with a 200MB download limit to be made available to customers with a Telstra phone line. The same service would cost A$39.95 without a bundled phone service.

Meanwhile, the Terria group has also submitted its proposal, repeating its call for the NBN operator to be structurally separated.

Optus has lodged the bid on the group's behalf, Terria chairman Michael Egan said.

"The TERRiA board resolved that Optus (ONI) would lodge the NBN bid since that is in the best interests of TERRiA and the achievement of the TERRiA principles developed by all members over the past 12 months," Egan said in a statement.

"TERRiA has agreed to ONI submitting the NBN bid — while maintaining the TERRiA principles with genuine open and equitable access to all access seekers, a strong ACCC mandate and structural separation of the National Broadband Network," Egan said.

In addition, Canberra's TransACT said it had submitted a fully-funded proposal to build a broadband network with speeds up to 100Mbit/s per second in the nation's capital, building on existing fibre services the company has rolled out there.

The company said its plan would provide fibre to more than 98% of ACT businesses and homes and would take five years to complete.

"TransACT is in a strong position to build on its substantial investment within the ACT. We have a skilled workforce with extensive experience in building, operating and maintaining fibre-optic broadband infrastructure," CEO Ian Slavich said.

"We are confident that we can provide world-class broadband services for the ACT community well into the future."

TransACT pulled out of the TERRiA consortium in late October but said at the time that it would remain a "firm" ally of the group.

"This will enable commercial negotiations between TransACT and TERRiA to be conducted without any conflict of interest, either real or perceived, among our respective directors," the parties said last month.

— Australian Financial Review

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