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TPG Slams Optus For Leveraging Suffering Of Bushfire Victims

TPG Telecom has issued a vicious statement welcoming the “overwhelming support” for the proposed regional network sharing deal with Telstra while slamming Optus for resorting to “scaremongering”.

Under the proposed arrangement, the spectrum of both Telstra and TPG will be pooled and shared. Telstra will be authorised to use some of TPG’s spectrum for this purpose, while TPG will also provide its MVNO customers with additional regional coverage.

Dubbing Optus as “commercially motivated competitors”, TPG accused the telco of misleading the public, industry and key stakeholders by intentionally twisting statements, and attempting to “leverage the suffering of communities affected by bushfires and floods for social media stunts.”

This last quote refers to the Linkedin post below, which connects the network sharing deal with the bushfires.

James Rickards, General Manager External Affairs, said: “Optus has engaged in scaremongering and rolled out its executives to trumpet the same lines regarding resiliency and future regional investment. This is an insult to regional mobile users who will benefit from the network sharing arrangement.

“It is a disappointment to our industry Optus chose to use emotionally manipulative images of kangaroos seeking to escape a bushfire, in an increasingly desperate attempt to stop a competition enhancing arrangement.

“Such posts have been recognised by the Australian public for exactly what they are: misguided and inappropriate.”

Optus says the deal is “uniquely one-sided” in favour of Telstra, saying TPG will be “dependent on Telstra’s network, with Telstra dictating the nature of its service” through the network sharing arrangement.

According to Optus, TPG will also “lose options to differentiate on service quality or any network-related features” and “further marginalise” itself as a Telstra competitor.

TPG’s release today makes it clear the telco doesn’t see it that way.

“Contrary to the assertions of Optus, this is not a merger,” said Rickards.

“To suggest otherwise is an attempt to mislead the public, industry and key stakeholders in the hope of creating controversy where none exists. This is an infrastructure sharing agreement in the interests of all Australians.

“Similarly, statements regarding the arrangements for pooling of spectrum in the shared network have seemingly been twisted intentionally.”

TPG also takes aim at the Singtel-owned Australia Towers Network, saying it is “commercially tied to the investment decisions” of Optus.

“ATN’s submission appears motivated by concerns its shareholders may not recover what they paid for the Optus and Axicom towers, which appears to have been based on obtaining TPG as a new tenant in regional Australia,” Rickards said.

“TPG has no intention of materially building out its regional coverage and was never a possible customer of ATN in regional Australia.”

Rickards also pointed out that concern from Optus it will lose customers to TPG is “the best evidence the network sharing arrangement is pro-competitive.”

“If approved, TPG will finally be in a position to compete for Optus and Telstra customers and intends to take market share in all regions.”

The ACCC will make a decision on the fate of this network sharing agreement in October.

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