Telstra gets the boot out of multi-billion Australia broadband project

Australia's newspapers are aflame over Telstra's disqualification for participation in the country's $6.7 to $10 billion (US) national broadband network project. 

Australia's broadband minister said Telstra has "excluded itself" from the RFP process for failing to respond to one of five mandatory requirements in the process, whereas other participating bidders managed to meet all the requirements and conditions for participation. Telstra reportedly submitted a light-on-details eight page document at the last minute that neglected to include a small-to-medium enterprise (SME) build-out plan. In comparison, other bidders have produced thousand page documents in response to the RFP.

The multi-billion dollar project involves replacing copper with fiber for 98 percent of Australia's network; Telstra was believed to have an overwhelming advantage over its rivals, since it owns the central coffers where all the current copper comes from.

An independent panel in charge of assessing the bids obtained legal advice from five different sources - including government and private law firms - which all said it could not consider Telstra's bid, because it did not meet mandatory requirements for the RFP process.

Telstra says its proposal complied with all legal obligations for the process, but the company has been threatening not to participate in the bid for months unless the government pulled a condition for structural separation of its broadband network infrastructure from its retail arm.

Government officials and Telstra officials are posturing as to who is at fault, contributing to further bad blood between the government and the country's largest phone company. Further fights are expected to break out between teams of Telstra lawyers and the Australia government and Telstra's board of directors and its shareholders; Telstra's stock price dropped around 12 percent since the disqualification announcement.

For more:
- Telstra gets dumped out of multi-billion dollar Oz broadband deal. Article.
- The Australian flames Telstra's arrogance in the bid process. Editorial.

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