Telstra has categorically ruled out renegotiating its NBN contract should the Coalition win the election in September.
The Australian interviewed Telstra's David Thodey at Mobile World Congress, and pointedly asked about the long-held Coalition position that it would renegotiate the $11 billion NBN deal in order to facilitate a FTTN solution. According to Thodey, however, at least the value of the deal isn't open for discussion.
We have a contract with the government and we know what value we need to participate. And that's really the end of the story. In terms of the value of our shareholders agreed to receive from the government and NBN Co, the deal has not changed.
He's open to changing the technology used for a NBN rollout, but not the actual compensation figure
Speaking on behalf of the shareholders, if there is a different way to make up that value, we are happy to talk about it. But at the end of the day we are making available for a price this infrastructure to allow the government to implement this policy.
That puts an interesting spike in the Coalition's frequently stated promises that it would deliver a national broadband solution both faster and cheaper; not having to renegotiate the contract may well be quicker, but it's not going to be appreciably cheaper. The Australian quotes Malcolm Turnbull as "welcoming" the comments from Thodey, stating that
We are confident that we can negotiate satisfactory access to copper in areas where we'd want to build a network on a fibre-to-the-node basis and we entirely understand Telstra will expect to keep its shareholders whole.
Then again, the Coalition hasn't released anything that could be called a detailed broadband plan, and Turnbull's own recent comments on the issue suggest that no plan would be formulated until after the September election if the Coalition takes power, so there's an awful lot of flexibility within the Coalition's position to begin with.
No renegotiation for Thodey [The Australian]