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Telstra says it could work with Libs NBN FTTN policy

Turnbull fierce on home networking costs

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Telstra could work to implement a policy change to the federal opposition's current alternative NBN plan, a fibre-to-the-node network, representatives of the carrier today told a public hearing of the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

Under sustained questioning from Senator Doug Cameron, Telstra's Group Managing Director of Corporate Affairs Tony Warren said he believes Telstra's participation in recent negotiations with government show it can successfully reach agreements that satisfy government, shareholders, employees and customers.

“I think Telstra has shown that it is able to deal with the government policy of the day,” Dr Warren told the hearing.

Warren was careful not to offer an opinion such an arrangement, instead repeating it would work to ensure shareholders, customers and employees were “protected” in the event of policy change. Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull later probed Dr Warren regarding a financial analyst's report that opines Telstra will be in a strong position should Australia's government change. Warren and James Shaw, the telco's Director of Government Relations, batted away the question with the same assurance of protection for stakeholders.

Earlier, Malcolm Turnbull asked Warren a series of questions on the effort required to network a home connected to a fibre-to-the-premises network, based on experiences gathered in South Brisbane where the carrier has built such a network for around 20,000 homes.

Warren said Telstra deploys two staff members and suggests a five hour timeframe to install the optical network termination device and then ensure all networked devices in the home operate correctly. He then suggested that that amount of time was needed, in part, because Telstra is using the Brisbane project to learn what it will take to perform similar installations on a larger scale as the NBN rolls out.

Warren added that Telstra believes the experience it offers connecting customers on their premises will be a differentiator in the market, and something it will use to entice customers to remain with Telstra – or churn to it – as the NBN rolls out.

The room went quiet during Turnbull's question. Your correspondent was waiting for the former leader to ask how much householders will have to pay to connect to the NBN, an uncertain figure that has been used to query the network's true cost to homeowners. But the question never came.

Under questioning from another opposition member of the committee, Paul Fletcher MP, Warren said Telstra will remain committed to a voice only product that was affordable to all households. Warren also said Telstra is working on a voice offering for the NBN, but will not reveal it until it is confident its business processes are sufficiently mature to stand up in the competitive environment of the NBN. ®

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