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Hello NBN: Vodafone Eye Fixed-Line

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Getting fixed line service right is “crucial” for mobile networks, VHA exec told a joint committee on NBN in Sydney today, making a case for the pricey $36 billion network.

Until now the fixed line market was unattractive for other players due to the dominance of Telstra, Matthew Lobb, VHA General Manager Industry Strategy and Public Policy, told the hearing, reports The Register.

“Australia has not been an attractive fixed line market because of Telstra’s 70% market share and vertical integration,” he said.

However, he did recognise Telstra would be a “formidable” competitor in the fixed-line market once Voda services got off the ground.

And a span new fibre network is also good news for Vodafone in more ways than one – it will also take pressure off its own troubled mobile network, which suffered slow speeds and call dropouts due to overloading, and led to a masssive consumer backlash.

“If you can take traffic out of the mobile network you increase the speed,” Lobb told the hearing, adding: “recent reforms and the NBN have changed our thinking”, he told the joint parliamentary committee on National Broadband Network.

VHA is already testing fixed-line, IPTV service FetchTV and femtocells on the high speed fibre network among a small number of its customers Lobb also revealed.

But its not all roses surrounding the high speed fibre broadband network, which will see the end of Telstra’s dominance over the wholesale telco market, warning fundamental change urgently needs be ushered in with the new fibre network.

“There needs to be a pro competition plan,” he warned and should encourage new players into the previously tight market and also had some advice for NBN Co on how they communicate the premise of the new broadband network:

“Saying nothing will change is a missed opportunity. NBN Co should promote new entrants. ”

Lobb also called on the competition watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to monitor wholesale prices.

“It’s early days, but it does seem that it is the same pricing or similar pricing to the pricing that is currently in the market in comparable areas of Australia,” he added.