AAPT will withdraw from the National Broadband Network (NBN) bid consortium Terria to pursue its own agenda.
Terria is Telstra’s main opposition in the NBN race and includes operators such as Optus, Primus Telecom and Internode.
“Moving out of the ‘them and us’ argument between Telstra and Terria allows AAPT to continue to share its views and maintain an independent perspective as the process unfolds,” said AAPT’s CEO, Paul Broad.
Broad said the debate has diverged too heavily into discussions of the cost of a proposed network.
Instead, the conversation should focus on two issues: “Firstly, who is best placed to build the network and secondly, a commitment to ensuring the correct regulatory model is in place to encourage competition on the network.
“The ownership of the network is of secondary importance,” Broad said.
David Kennedy, research director at consultancy Ovum, said AAPT’s decision puts Terria at a significant disadvantage.
“AAPT is the second most important operator in the consortium, and its absence will significantly reduce the commercial and lobbying heft of the Terria bid,” Kennedy said.
According to Kennedy, AAPT is developing a backup plan in case Telstra wins the NBN bid — perhaps indicating a lack of confidence in Terria’s chances of winning.
But more importantly, Kennedy said AAPT’s move reflects reality.
“The Terria bid faces significant hurdles, especially raising capital, and it is dangerous for Telstra's competitors to put all of their eggs into the Terria basket. That is why 'Plan B' is necessary,” he said.
AAPT’s own NBN submission to the government highlighted five key points:
- Equivalence of access in price and non-price terms.
- Appropriate regulation, as decided by the ACCC.
- Product differentiation, as competition will be based on services and applications.
- A transition path needs to be clarified and determined by the regulator.
- Investment must be made for future network developments.