Telstra CEO tells Obama on how to fix up US communications infrastructure

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Telstra CEO - Sol Trujillo

Sol Trujillo, the guy who took over Telstra and made it into a love/hate relationship between it and the consumer, has written a piece in BusinessWeek that basically outlined a potential plan that Barack Obama’s stimulus package should be used in upgrading the United States’ communications infrastructure.

While there is nothing wrong expressing one’s opinion, just don’t do it when you run an telecommunications company in Australia. Why? Well, the internet speeds are slow, all the plans are capped below <50 GB (and you are lucky to have over that amount) and that Telstra has a near monopoly on the entire telecommunications network.

“In many countries, including Australia, broadband service is available to a much larger percentage of the population than in the U.S. Many have much faster and more versatile third-generation, or 3G, wireless broadband networks—what much of the rest of the world calls the "mobile Internet,” he writes in the article – but I would think again about putting Australia as a comparison to America.

He also added that the NextG Network, the 3G network that Telstra claims to cover almost everywhere in Australia, “is ready to operate at 21 Mbps and, in the next year or so, we will double Australia’s network speeds to 42 Mbps—providing bandwidth fast enough to download a two-hour movie to a laptop on a beach in four minutes.”

“That’s faster than all but a tiny fraction of U.S. wireline broadband connections.”

However, the biggest thing that he says is that net neutrality should be shattered. Coming from a country where net neutrality barely makes no sense whatsoever, the ISPs here offer unmetered content from several services to compete with each other – and Telstra is putting most of its own content as unmetered, and metering all the others, including this site.

“Net neutrality works directly against the goal of unleashing private capital and know-how to build a nationwide, high-speed mobile Internet,” he writes. “Regulatory clarity must be in place before the private sector will risk capital.”

He also says that the “myth of net neutrality” is just destroying the telecommunications companies’ incentive to “invest the tens of billions of dollars needed to create and maintain” their own networks. He also wants those who consume massive amounts of bandwidth to pay more, and even says that it works directly against unleashing “private capital”.

But does the government really need to fund such a project? Australia might, but the United States telecommunications companies have enough money to fund their own, and do upgrades to their own networks. While it looks like that he might be “helping” Obama, it might be interpreted to a recent failed bid to build the National Broadband Network in Australia.

But also, Trujillo controls the company that has a near monopoly on the network; while AT&T, Verizon and everyone else has their own network to rely upon. Telstra is the only company that could make or break a proposal from the government; or for any plan regarding telecommunications or the internet.

Take for example, the three-strikes rule that would see you given three warnings of piracy complaints before getting your connection cut off. Telstra refused, and none of the others accepted the plan – except one ISP, Exetel; because it seems that if Telstra does it, we all must do it.

However, he might have a point with the telecommunications network needing an upgrade; but that is debatable depending on your views. But, one thing we are certain that is correct – that he is wrong about net neutrality.

Ending his piece, he writes:

The place to begin is by recognizing a simple reality: America is seriously behind other countries in some of the future’s most important infrastructure capabilities. But if America clears the obstacles to bold investments in telecommunications, it will provide a foundation for innovation and competitiveness and help its battered economy to rebound.