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Telstra Chair Throws Shade At NBN’s Unfair Monopoly

Telstra chair John Mullen has ramped up its criticism of the government-backed NBN Co, calling it a “massively expensive waste of resources that has entrenched a slow, state-owned monopoly, rather than a competitive high-speed broadband network”.

Speaking during Telstra’s annual general meeting, Mullen attacked NBN Co on things like affordability, business practices and its incursions beyond its boundaries, and suggested that all these issues could have been avoided had the government not created the NBN in the first place.

“It is my view that over the last 10 years private sector competition between strong players was always going to build 100Mbps broadband access and speed to the majority of Australia, in an ongoing competitive landscape and at no cost to the taxpayer,” Mullen told shareholders.

“Governments could then have decided how much subsidy they were willing to provide the industry to extend this coverage to regional and rural areas where private sector economics were unattractive.”

“Instead, in the NBN we have created a state-owned monopoly that is going to cost the country more than $50 billion.”

Mullen also said that due to the fact that it was too expensive for many retail service providers (RSPs), many of them are now looking at other technologies, or are facing the possibility of going out of business.

“Clearly, losing money is unsustainable for all the 180-odd RSPs out there and is why we have seen some companies already starting to withdraw from reselling the NBN,” Mullen continued.

“In addition, these economics are leading many companies to invest in 5G fixed wireless and other technological solutions to allow them to offer competitive broadband without using the NBN, which just makes the situation worse.”

The NBN Co is currently the subject of two Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiries, including one on the affordability of its wholesale prices, as well as on accusations of provider discrimination between RSPs.

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