Telstra has said it wants NBN to pick up its obligations to supply voice services within the government-owned wholesaler’s fixed wireless network.
Under the 20-year contract that is the Universal Service Obligation, Telstra is paid by the government and industry to supply copper phone lines and behave as a fixed line infrastructure provider of last resort (IPOLR).
Writing in a submission to the Department of Communications review of the 2015 Telecommunications in New Developments (TIND) Policy, Telstra said its IPOLR role for voice beyond NBN’s fixed line footprint was at odds with the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) legislation and should be ended.
“To support the delivery of USO voice services, NBN Co’s fixed wireless service should be made USO-compliant. This is the logical next step from the SIP legislation, which will require NBN Co’s ‘qualifying fixed wireless network’ to have voice and broadband capability,” the telco said.
“It also lends support to our position that Telstra should no longer be the IPOLR outside NBN Co’s fixed line footprint.
“Whether or not Telstra ultimately retains an IPOLR role under the revised TIND policy, the interaction between the SIP regime and the USO must be clarified.”
Competitors have long attacked the scheme, saying it has given Telstra free money.
In a speech in April last year, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the company receives AU$270 million each year under the USO, with the government kicking in AU$100 million, and industry contributing less than AU$50 million.
The Telstra CEO added that the cost has been increasing on a per-service level and other telcos could pick it up if they liked.
“If any of my competitor colleagues would like to take over the contract, please do see me after the event. I would be more than happy to pass the contract over to you on exactly the same terms we have it,” he said.
Telstra said in its submission that NBN should be the IPOLR in both fixed line and fixed wireless areas, and should it ever be able to supply voice services via satellite, then that too should be added to its remit.
“It would be neither logical nor efficient if NBN Co as the SIP was required to connect premises to a ‘qualifying fixed wireless network’ with voice and broadband capability, but was not required to make that fixed wireless service USO-compliant, potentially requiring Telstra to deploy additional infrastructure to provide USO voice services to the same premises,” Telstra wrote.
NBN CEO Stephen Rue has said the climate is going to get worse and it is a serious focus for the company.
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