Today is D Day for Telstra. After months of lobbying the national telecommunications carrier has till 12 noon to make a decision as to whether they will pitch for the Federal Governments National Broadband Network and the $4.7 billion that’s up for grabs.
A recent research study showed that most Australians want Telstra to run the network as opposed to foreign owned Companies like Optus who are part of the Terria consortium or the Canadian owned Company Axia NetMedia.
The key issue for the Federal Government and Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is demands by Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo, who has said that he will not bid unless the Government rules out structural separation.
Telstra board members are meeting this morning to decide whether to lodge a bid for the Rudd Government’s $4.7 billion National Broadband Network tender. They’ll have to talk fast: the deadline for tender lodgement is noon.
Other directors are Donald McGauchie (chairman) Geoffrey Cousins; Catherine Livingstone; economist Charles Macek; John Stocker; legal expert Peter Willcox; banker John Zeglis; banker John Stewart; and former TNT/DHL exec John Mullen.
A number of observers yesterday were tipping that, for all the bluster of the past year, Telstra will indeed put in a bid though it is likely to contain many provisos that could require months of negotiation.
The Optus-led Terria group will also submit a 900-page bid which proposes speeds of up to 90 megabits per second, according to a Communications Day report and is among those betting on a counter-bid from Telstra.
“Telstra cannot afford not to bid,” said Optus’s Maha Krishnapillai, a lead spokesman for the Terria group.
CitiGroup analysts have the same basic belief. They argued this week that up to $10 billion could be wiped from Telstra’s market value if it does not compete.
Both Telstra and Terria are estimating the total cost of rolling out the fibre network at around $15 billion. Terria boss Michael Egan has maintained that despite scathing doubts cast by Telstra it now has been assured of access to the funding.