Deutsche Telekom makes play for local broadband network

Expert taskforce forms steering committee

Multi billion dollar global telco Deutsche Telekom has joined a host of international and local companies vying for a piece of Australia's controversial Fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network.

While the European giant has not put in a formal bid for the network, it has joined a host of global telecommunications providers which are prepared to invest time and money into the country's stagnating infrastructure.

Telco analyst, Paul Budde, said the big international players like Deutsche Telekom will not be discouraged from investing in the FttN network because they have experience and hefty financial backing.

"There is about half a dozen international companies with their eyes on the Australian market and they won't be put-off by the current [regulatory] market or industry," Budde said.

He said the six-week bidding window, set up by the ICT Minister's Expert Taskforce, will not deter serious investment although it is impossible to construct a comprehensive tender in such a short timeframe.

"If [the telcos] are serious, they will get a bid in because there will be follow-ups and plenty of discussion after the short window," he said.

"It is impossible to come in with a comprehensive document in such a tight schedule, which has been formulated around the upcoming federal election."

According to Budde, interest in large telecommunications networks is divided between manufacturing firms who can supply the infrastructure, and seasoned telcos who can deliver the service.

To this end, Budde says Telstra should consider breaking-out an infrastructure branch to allow it to aggressively compete with Opel, a joint venture between Optus and regional service provider Elders.

A spokesperson from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) confirmed it has only received official bids from Telstra and the Optus-led G9 consortium.

At the second of two roundtables hosted last week by the Communications Alliance to discuss Australia's future in a FttN environment, the industry forum welcomed the opportunities presented by the government's Expert Taskforce for the competitive FttN bids process.

Speaking after the event, Alliance CEO, Anne Hurley, said the Australian communications industry has been given a great opportunity to positively influence and shape its own future operating environment.

"As the Expert Taskforce begins to build its guidelines for the competitive bids process in consultation with industry, alliance members are ideally placed to collectively craft the environment which we are embracing. We want to help lead the consultation process and pro-actively identify the broad principles to be captured by the guidelines," she said.

"By collating our members' views, the alliance will provide a valuable, central reference for commentary on the network infrastructure proposals that may be tabled."

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