Regional Communications Review report is a stop sign to telecommunications investment in regional Australia
The release of the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) report is a stop sign to telecommunications investment in regional Australia, Geoff Booth, Group Managing Director, Telstra Country Wide, said today.
The report, which reviewed telecommunications services across regional Australia, correctly states that competition and investment is required for regional Australia, however counters it with recommendations that work against achieving these principles.
“In a nutshell, the RTIRC report is all over the shop. On one hand they support an environment that promotes competition, innovation and investment in the bush, and then on the other make recommendations that will do nothing but create massive uncertainty for investment in regional Australia,” Mr Booth said.
"For example, to suggest that the Australian Government should consider court ordered divestiture is totally inconsistent with investment. What company could justify investment to its Board if there was a risk of the courts ripping away your assets?
"The recommendations that the report makes will only increase the divide between regional and city telecommunications - something that Telstra has actively worked against for the past decade. The recommendations are tired, old-world thinking that has done little to address the challenges of the digital and IP world.
"Telstra is the only company that has made material investments in regional Australia. Through this investment and the subsequent improvements that have occurred, there has been tremendous progress in telecommunications in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
"By suggesting that these improvements that Telstra has made, and future improvements, can be assisted by increasing the regulatory burden is simply ludicrous. Increasing regulation is anti-investment. The best way to improve regional telecommunications and the customer experience is through the provision of modern networks capable of supplying the latest products and services.
"Without appropriate investment, and an environment to promote that investment, regional Australia will be left behind when it comes to modern telecommunications.
"The report clearly forgets the benefits that Telstra’s investment in the Next G™ network has provided to regional Australia, with the Australia’s largest and most advanced national 3GSM network available to 99 per cent of the Australian population. The Committee’s recommendations would discourage that investment being made today.
"Ten years of unnecessary regulation and ad hoc subsidy programs have failed to deliver and clearly demonstrates the need for a new approach to ensure regional Australia benefits from the digital economy.
“New rules, inquiries and regulations will make any investor run a mile. These recommendations will only see regional Australia fall behind the city and the rest of the world. That would be a disaster not only for rural and regional Australians, but for Australia overall,” Mr Booth said.
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