TelstraClear keen to work with Telecom: Telstra CEO

TelstraClear is keen to work with Telecom on access and interconnection issues, but says it will "overbuild" if it has to in areas where it's viable.

TelstraClear is keen to work with Telecom on access and interconnection issues, but says it will “overbuild” if it has to in areas where it’s viable.

Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski made the observation of its New Zealand subsidiary, during a flit across the Tasman last week, that “from Telstra’s point of view, New Zealand can support two full service carriers”.

In a reference to the situation across the Tasman where Telstra is the incumbent and Telecom-owned AAPT a challenger, Switkowski said “we encourage Telecom to deal with us the way Telstra dealt with AAPT — we’re anxious to engage with Telecom to find ways to resell off their network”.

Telstra and AAPT concluded an interconnection deal earlier this month but TelstraClear and Telecom remain deal-less since Telecom’s agreements with Clear and TelstraSaturn lapsed.

Telecom spokesman Andrew Bristol told Computerworld earlier this month that Telecom is “very keen to conclude negotiations”.

Of the appointment of Douglas Webb as telecommunications commissioner, Switkowski says it’s a positive thing “but I hope he doesn’t have to play an active role”. If he does, however, he “will offer international bench-marking and an international perspective”.

Switkowski says Telstra backs CDMA, the technology Telecom relies on for mobile phones, for developing data services rather than the GSM of Vodafone.

The Australian telco is one of only two in the world that are running both CDMA and GSM/GPRS mobile networks. Telstra runs both networks because it was required by the Australian government to replace its analogue services with digital by 2000. While it invested in GSM in the early 1990s it chose CDMA to complete the transformation to digital, with the result that in most of Australia the two networks overlap.

But Switkowski says Telstra believes CDMA offers better opportunities “in the data world”.

Telstra is trialling CDMA1XRTT, the 2.5G application of CDMA.

“But that doesn’t mean we won’t be doing [third-generation] GSM.” Telstra already has GPRS, the 2.5-generation upgrade of GSM, he says.

Looking into the future of telecommunications generally, Switkowski sees much venture capital going into wireless projects in the next few years.

"I have little doubt we'll see lots of new wireless start-ups and most will find it hard to succeed, but one or two will do well and some will do well enough to attract the attention of other companies and be acquired."

In the research and development space, he sees speech recognition as a major focus.

"The next step is moving people away from having to use keyboards."

Content for expanding broadband is another future growth area, he says, with content aggregation deals between telcos and media companies leading to content being transported between PCs, cellphones, TVs and wireless devices.

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