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Comms Minister Says Telstra Can’t Own NBN

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said he can’t “see any scenario” where the national broadband network could be sold to Telstra after construction is completed next year, saying any sale would be prevented by the legislation that established it.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Fletcher said the NBN Co policy structure meant Telstra, or any other “vertically integrated telco” (like the one he worked for at a senior level, Optus) would be prevented from acquiring the network.

Paul Fletcher

The legislation is designed to stop any organisation that provides retail network services from acquiring the wholesale network to prevent any company having a monopoly.

Telstra recently established InfraCo, a division in charge of the company’s infrastructure including connection pits and ducts that are leased to the NBN.

Telco and digital consultancy firm Venture Insights’ managing director Nigel Pugh told the paper InfraCo could potentially acquire the NBN as a standalone business separate from Telstra, but Mr Fletcher said the government was “still quite some way away from looking at any change to ownership” of the NBN.

Retail service providers, including Telstra, have been critical of the wholesale prices charged by the NBN, which they say make it difficult for them to make a profit.

Mr Fletcher also ruled out any government intervention in the wholesale pricing, saying he would leave that up to the NBN Co executives.

NBN Co is currently reviewing its wholesale pricing structures with a focus on low income earners and other households who have the ability to connect to the NBN but have so far chosen not to.

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