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Telstra has demonstrated over the last 5 years that it can be a leader in the world telecommunications marketplace. It went from a follower just riding on the coat-tails of a copper network, to creating the biggest and fastest mobile network in the world.

Yet this morning, the Australian government has decided that it doesn’t like an Australian¬†company being too successful. After all the the time, money and effort that Telstra has invested into becoming the leaders, the Government has decided that it’s time to slow it down.

They announced a series of reforms to telecommunications legislation that will essentially force the break-up of Telstra. Stephen Conroy tried to make it look nice by saying that Telstra can voluntarily choose to break up the way it wants, but then swiftly added that if they didn’t, the goverment will break them up anyway. And added a boot in by saying it’ll block any new mobile spectrum acquisitions until “it structurally separates, divests its … cable network and divests its interests in Foxtel.” Talk about bullying.

For me, this just seems like it’s going to make it very, very difficult for Australia to continue to be a world leader in the mobile broadband marketplace. Telstra’s advancements have forced Optus, Voda and 3 to play along or get left behind, and has meant that we have four 3G mobile¬†networks in Australia. That’s massive for a country of our size compared with the US and China. And so by slowing down Telstra and forcing it to separate, are Optus, Voda and 3 going to bother making anymore advancements? They won’t have anyone to try and keep up with.

It just feels like the government has caved in to the whinging and whining of other telecommunications companies in Australia, who aren’t as far ahead as Telstra, and has just chopped it right down to slow its growth.

Somehow, the government thinks that a 100Mbps nationwide fibre network is the answer to Australia’s broadband problems… but in 8 years when its built, it will already be redundant. And in that time, Telstra would’ve been beyond that point in wireless broadband. Wonder if that will still happen, or if this will signify the beginning’s of the government’s monopoly on Australia-wide telecommunications?

And lastly, I loved the nomination that Stephen Conroy put forward for himself for the Ignorant and Stupid Comments of the Year awards:

Senator Conroy said Telstra copper network was literally “collapsing in the ground”.

“Every time there is a flood, every time there is heavy rain in northern NSW, Queensland, there is a further degradation of some part of Telstra’s copper network,” he said. “There is an enormous maintenance requirement every year to continue to just try and keep it where it’s at.”

The infrastructure in the ground was actually blocking the capacity to deliver decent broadband.

Bring on the comments telling me that Telstra is a big bully and that it’s the right thing for “competition” and for Australia – I’d love to hear them and I’m ready for a fight. Cos you try and tell me that the government isn’t being the biggest bully of them all right now.

[smh link]

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