A leaked internal memo from Michael Rocca, the Group Managing Director of Telstra Services, has appeared. The memo was forwarded on to me from a group calling itself “Consumers for Universal National Telecommunications Systems”, which makes for a rather unfortunate acronym.

In the memo, Mr Rocca discusses Telstra’s ongoing frustrations with the ACCC, and the so-called G9 of other telcos.

The email begins:

Telstra has been actively lobbying against pricing proposals put forward by the ACCC regarding the price we can charge rivals access to the Unconditioned Local Loop (ULL), which is the “last mile” of copper running from the exchange to the customer premises.

Sub-loop unbundling enables other carriers to interconnect with Telstra’s customer access network at any point between the exchange and the customer premises. The G9 are seeking sub-loop unbundling so they can build a fibre to the node network.

Should sub-loop unbundling go ahead, it could mean that competitors could simply build their own nodes right next to our existing Telstra nodes or any other physically accessible point of their choosing, and you, as members of Telstra Services, would be required to, at the beck-and-call of these competitors, go out and physically cut the copper wire from Telstra’s network and connect it to the competitor’s node.

Please understand that: you would be required to physically break the network that has served this country for so many years.

Telstra has a plan to build a FTTN network and everyone knows that we are the only company capable of doing this. The G9 has a so-called proposal that cannot — I repeat cannot — go ahead without Telstra’s network.

Should the ACCC endorse sub-loop unbundling, it is the clearest indication yet of how far it will go to stop Telstra — that is, stop you — from building the network that will power Australia into the future.

The veracity of the email has been confirmed by another source inside Telstra, who said that it had appeared on the Telstra intranet in the last couple of days, available for all Telstra employees to read.

When questioned about the reason for the leak, C-NTS claimed that:

We sent you this piece with the intention of getting as much press coverage for this internal memo as possible, as it helps further our own agenda (which should be obvious from our backronym.) We have obtained it (the memo) from a source whose providence is, shall we say, unquestionable.

Sol Trujillo has been saying for months that Telstra will finally be able to show what it can do for Australian consumers once it is no longer hamstrung by public ownership. The organisation has embarked on a charm offensive with such ventures as the “NowweareTalking” website, which has met with mixed results.

Telstra recently had to pull a poll on the site that asked who was to blame for the lack of progress in building a high speed broadband network in Australia, after 97.1% of respondents claimed it was Telstra who was to blame.

The leaked memo, while it has appeared through different channels, appears to be pushing the same barrow. Rocca is clearly rallying the troops for the fight of Telstra’s life –with the ACCC and the G9 squarely in the company’s sights.

Peter Fray

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