is a crooked cricketer appealing for a fair go and still being treated as a
national champion, according
to Optus CEO Paul O’Sullivan, who yesterday accused the incumbent carrier of
attacking the
national interest in its continued push for reduced regulatory burden.

Telstra took two hours yesterday to outline its regulatory woes, O’Sullivan spent
15 minutes at
a Trans Tasman Business Council event in Sydney launching a
scathing dissent from
the company’s efforts. Claiming that “we are facing a moment of truth in
Australian telecommunications,”
O’Sullivan accused Telstra of using the opportunity “to rebuild its
monopoly for the new millennium,” claiming that regulation must be strengthened
to ensure a competitive future broadband market.

UNDERARM? While casting Optus and other
players as champions of competition and
well in touch with the “national interest,” O’Sullivan claimed that Telstra
aimed to “cement a new
monopoly – under the protection of a regulatory access holiday,” all the while
complaining about
“unfair regulatory burden.” He said, “it is like Trevor Chappell complaining
about not getting a
fair go from the umpire – even while he is rolling an underarm ball down the

comments may be stretching the local knowledge of some of Telstra’s American
management, and
O’Sullivan was not done with the sporting analogies. Claiming Telstra’s 50%
EBITDA margin
as evidence of its continued monopoly power and need for restriction in favour
of new entrants, he
said, “the national interest is best served, not by treating Telstra as some
kind of national champion
– like Phar Lap, to be stuffed and preserved in a museum – but instead by
encouraging vigorous
competition in telecommunications.”

claims Telstra has instigated a three-pronged attack on broadband competition
by jacking
up prices, pushing for ULL pricing structure changes and forcing competitors
out by demanding the
right to bar access to a new fibre-to-the-node network. He cast the Optus ULL
rollout as
a “once in a generation opportunity to attack Telstra’s long-standing dominance
of the local loop.”

JOINT NET? Pointedly, O’Sullivan revealed yesterday that he had
approached Telstra in October with
a proposal to enter in a fibre-to-the-node joint venture but claims to have
been immediately rebuffed by
Telstra which had “no plans to proceed” with such a project. He has called for
a new network development
model where “the industry as a whole shares the investment necessary” to
upgrade the
country’s broadband infrastructure.

to O’Sullivan, “the new broadband network would not be accompanied by monopoly pricing…
our approach would let each party reach certainty – through contractual
negotiations rather
than the heavy hand of government – about the terms on which one party could
use the part of
the network built by other party.”