Telstra is now engaged in scaremongering –
saying that if it doesn’t get more protection from the Federal
Government telecoms prices in rural and remote Australia could be as
high as ten times those in metro areas.

Telstra may have an
argument in relation to the price parity issues, but for many years it
has played games with the regulatory system, refusing to sit down with
the industry and the regulator to work out a mutually agreeable
competitive environment. It used its rights to protect its own
commercial interests to the maximum.

Under the 1997
self-regulatory policies Telstra had plenty of opportunity to lead the
industry, and, because it failed to do so, countless regulations were
brought in, one after the other, by an increasingly frustrated
government. After years of frustration the regulator now, finally
backed by good government policies, is telling Telstra enough is enough.

real reason for the latest fight, I am afraid, is not Telstra’s concern
regarding regional telecoms prices but the fact that Telstra is
misusing the political issue of regional telecoms to prevent
competition in its metro market. Telstra wants to use regional politics
to increase charges to its wholesale customers in metro Australia.
These competitors are becoming so successful that Telstra is trying to
change the rules of the game, five years after it itself accepted these

So, because it missed the boat five years ago, does the
rest of the industry now have to pay for Telstra’s mistakes? This
debate clearly shows the enormous divide between policies that are good
for Telstra and those that are good for the country. The reality is
that telecommunications means far too much to the Australian economy
and our society for it to be traded off to increase the profitability
of one single company.

Telstra’s scaremongering and whingeing
only makes more and more people wary about the company, and will only
drive more customers away.