Australia's drive to build its own national broadband network, an effort that's been beset with protests from incumbent operator Telstra, appears to be coming closer to fruition. Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will soon name the chairman and the board members of the new entity, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Conroy added that the government is open to ownership options from any private company that makes an equity investment in the network.
In a plan that's nothing short of ambitious, as the Australian government aims to build an A$43 billion fiber-to-the-home network through private company investments. To date, incumbent Telstra and competitive carriers Singapore's Optus and Canadian-based Axia Netmedia have all expressed interest in being part of the new network. Telstra has had a tough ride to become part of the proposed network, because after submitting its application, the government in December said the incumbent was unqualified to participate. Since then reports emerged that Telstra had been examining the possibility of decoupling its wholesale and retail divisions in addition to selling fiber assets to the government to gain a minority stake in the venture.
Another possible scenario is that Telstra could spin off its broadband access unit into the new provider. But other than saying that combining Telstra's broadband operations would be a "great outcome," Conroy said the government is weighing all of its options.
- The Wall Street Journal has this report
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