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Rivals sound warning over NBN copper rent from Telstra

TELSTRA’S rivals have urged the NBN Co not to rent the telco giant’s copper network if it is to be used as part of the federal government’s plan to roll out a fibre-to-the-node broadband network.

The Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC) said any plans to rent Telstra’s copper network would undermine the structural separation of the telco giant and render useless the policy objective of the NBN which is to level the playing field for telecoms companies.

As part of Telstra’s $11 billion deal to participate in the NBN, the telco is currently leasing access to its underground pits and pipes. Under the Coalition’s NBN policy, the company would also need access to the physical copper to connect homes and businesses to NBN fibre-nodes.

However the CCC – which includes iiNet and Macquarie Telecom among its members – said advice prepared by the NBN Co for the incoming government to rent the copper network was contrary to the principle of structural separation that was at the heart of the NBN.

“The NBN represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break with the structurally uncompetitive arrangements that have bedevilled the communications industry and consumers for 30 years,” a CCC spokesman said.

“Any proposal that NBN Co buy so-called managed services from Telstra would represent an abrogation of NBN Co’s responsibilities to deliver these profound structural changes. Such an arrangement would make NBN Co a Telstra reseller and make claims of structural reform nonsense.”

The CCC also warned that if the NBN Co was to buy Telstra’s copper it could saddle the company with more than $1 billion in annual maintenance costs for the network.