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Telstra-TPG Deal A Frightening Cancer: Littleproud

New Nationals leader David Littleproud has described a proposed regional network sharing deal between Telstra and TPG as “frightening”, comparing it as a cancer spreading throughout regional Australia.

He also took shots at outgoing CEO Andy Penn, who in turns called Littleproud’s claims “complete rubbish”.

This comes as the ACCC begins a two-week consultation process, before deciding the fate of the deal in October.

The proposed deal means that Telstra will gain access to TPG’s 4G and 5G spectrum, and 169 mobile sites.

TPG will, in turn, access 3,700 Telstra cellular towers, bumping its 4G coverage to 98.8 per cent of Australians. It will also decommission 725 of its TPG mobile sites, allowing for better access for customers of both telcos.

“Looking on the surface, when Andy Penn came out and did a big sales pitch it all looked rosy, but as with anything with Andy Penn you need to scratch beneath the surface,” Littleproud said.

“There is concern that Telstra is actually going to continue to abandon the bush.

“This will be about just transferring assets and spectrum and shutting down existing assets just to take control of what TPG had.

“This is frightening and not just for regional Australia, but we are seeing this cancer that is Telstra spread into peri-urban areas as well, in that they have continued to take away much of the investment and maintenance, particularly with mobile phone towers, and effectively let them slide away despite the investment by the Coalition government in the mobile black spot areas.”

Telstra CEO, Andy Penn

Penn hit back at Littleproud’s less-than-stellar public record.

“After nine years in government he has failed to deliver anything for the bush – USO reform, adequate service standards or pricing on the regional NBN, or a reliable power supply on which critical services depend,” Penn said.

“As usual he is blaming us for all of the balls he has dropped and he has dropped more balls than the English in the last Test.

“As usual Mr Littleproud fails to let the facts get in the way of a good story on the TPG deal. It’s a good result for all involved – Telstra, TPG and their customers in regional Australia.

“It improves the size and quality of TPG’s mobile coverage. It improves the capacity and quality of Telstra’s mobile coverage.

“And most importantly it increases the choice of provider and quality of service for regional Australians.”

A TPG spokesman echoed Penn’s comments.

“Unfortunately, it appears Mr Littleproud is not aware of the facts.

“Combining the best of TPG Telecom and Telstra’s infrastructure and spectrum in regional Australia will result in better quality service and greater customer choice.

“Infrastructure sharing is the future because it represents the most sensible way to boost competition in areas where it does not make commercial or economic sense to duplicate infrastructure.

“We’ve heard from key stakeholder groups representing farmers and business owners in regional Australia who understand the deal and how it will bring competition and choice to the bush.

“For them, it means having greater choice and service so they can stay connected with the latest 4G and 5G technologies, just like those living in the cities.

“This is not just a huge benefit to existing customers who want to travel to the bush without dropping out, but also a game-changing event for everyone in regional Australia who currently only has the choice of one or two mobile providers.”


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