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Telstra too slow on broadband.

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TELSTRA TOO SLOW ON BROADBAND Shadow Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner, today slammed Telstra’s belated and inadequate response to Australia’s poor broadband performance.

“In announcing several initiatives at the World Congress on IT, Telstra’s has belatedly recognised that its broadband roll-out in Australia has been well below par. In fact we are now ranked 16th out of 30 OECD member countries.

“Telstra and the Howard Government share the blame for Australia’s woeful broadband performance. Telstra is by far Australia’s largest telecommunications company and controls the infrastructure critical to broadband uptake.

“Telstra’s majority shareholder, the Howard Government, has sat by while Telstra has dawdled on broadband take up. Spooked by the collapse of the dotcoms, Telstra has stalled on its development of broadband.

“Telstra have now announced a $50 million initiative to expand broadband uptake. This money would be better spent on direct broadband infrastructure roll out or through pricing reductions, rather than in grants and advertising.

“Telstra should readjust its pricing regime to encourage broadband take up by the community. A recent Microsoft report stated that download usage based charges, now Telstra’s key broadband pricing strategy, push costs up and acts as a deterrent to broadband uptake.

“Telstra should revisit its recent pricing changes to broadband which saw some prices rise by 31%.

“Telstra should also increase its declining capital expenditure budget to ensure the increased roll out of cable, ADSL and wireless broadband so that all Australians can obtain ready access to broadband

“For the sake of Australia’s future in the information economy, Telstra must get serious about our broadband network and prices—16th out of 30 is not good enough.

February 28, 2002

For further information contact Lindsay Tanner or Peter van Vliet on (03) 9347 5000 or 0408 188 055