According to the news down under, Austalian incumbent Telstra and the country’s wholesale fiber-to-everybody NBN Co venture have finally signed on the dotted line for the $11B deal they have been working on for years. Of course today’s definitive agreement doesn’t end much of anything, as Telstra’s shareholders still have to agree, as does the ACCC. Actually, it’s a bit of Yogi Berra’s ‘deja vu all over again’, as I thought we were mostly at this point about six months ago. Sometimes it seems like the Aussies have redefined the phrase ‘signed a definitive agreement’ to mean ‘successfully generated additional steps to complete while issuing a PR’.
Yet I suppose that’s what it takes to separate a dominant incumbent from a country’s infrastructure, which is a mess that I’m still amazed they have been so willing to take on. I have to admit, I really figured the Aussies would have derailed this train by now. I know the USA certainly would have, not that even getting started was ever a possibility.
Assuming that they really do mean it this time and Telstra’s shareholders don’t revolt when October rolls around and everybody plays nice with the structural separation and migration plans, then maybe the arena will finally shift away from the lawyers and accountants and over to the engineers. The completion date for the whole shebang is said to be 2018, but that’s far enough in the future that I’ll bet the world changes a lot in between.
In a separate announcement, competitive provider Optus signed an AUD$800M deal to to migrate its own customers over from its HFC plant as well. That migration is expected to start in 2014.