11 April 2006

Telco reform

In the early '90s Kim Beazley proposed that what was then Telecom Australia be divided into infrastructure on one hand and wholesale/retail sales on the other. It was a good idea, and it was sacrificed to the Hawke-Keating rivalry within the ALP government at the time.

Today, the Federal government holds 51% of a company that is too big, divided about its priorities, and led by a bunch of cowboys who are fattening the beast for market rather than training it for its purpose. The opportunity to sell Telstra has passed, and the idea that the Howard Government has any vision to catapult Australia into a new realm of possibilities facilitated by advanced telecommunications is clearly rubbish.

Telstra should be split along similar lines to the early '90s Beazley model, and if Beazley's wealth of ministerial experience had any value at all that's just what he'd propose. An Australian telco infrastructure company that could become a battleground for new and better technologies, topped with a gaggle of retailers and developers battling for better deals with customers. The bush gets their service without being a charity case, the ICT industry gets a whole new realm to work on, fuelled by international interest in an infrastructure so vast yet so underutilised, and retailers don't have to go cap-in-hand to a competitor that has all of the arrogance and complacency of government with the sharp elbows of a competitor.

There's a recipe for Australia to prosper technically and culturally into the 21st century, and as such there's nothing more you can do than sit back and watch it die.

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