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Optus calls for NBN content sharing standards

Chief executive says there must be provisions to allow for all telcos to compete equally

Optus chief executive, Paul O'Sullivan, has urged the federal government to create sharing provisions for digital content services provided over the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Speaking at an Enterprise Ireland trade mission event in Sydney, he said that it was essential that rules were put in place so that "the guys with the biggest wallet" could not lock up content that allows telecommunication companies to compete on equal terms.

"We have advocated strongly that is essential in Australia to create a competitive layer for applications and for content on the NBN. Likewise, we would like to see open access for all content and application developers on every [telco] network if they meet minimum security requirements," said O'Sullivan.

While he said it was positive that the ICT industry was talking about services and innovation on the NBN, he added that the rollout meant a reform of the current industry structure is necessary.

"It is no coincidence that the unbundling of the local loop in the early 2000s allowed broadband penetration to increase in Australia," he said. "However, that job is still to be complete because we are yet to see the final details of the proposed Telstra structural separation. The current proposed undertaking is insufficient to bring about the proposed innovations such as e-health and it is essential that Australia gets the full benefits of the NBN."

However, O'Sullivan said Optus had a number of plans in place to leverage the NBN network. For example, it had been investing over $1 billion a year in capturing business intelligence data from its 9 million customers.

"We can aggregate that data to see where a third of the population is and measure traffic density. As we get more information and profiling of customers, security is of interest, because we will be carrying more sensitive data for Australians."

In addition, the telco is keen to help companies develop bring-your-own technology (BYOT) policies as tablet and smartphone penetration increased.

"We think that there is a huge opportunity ahead for companies to innovate themselves in how they do their work such as bringing their own device to work," he said. "The growth of social communities is a small example of what can be achieved in a professional environment with professional groups. Guidelines are needed to ensure BYOT works."

Optus reached an $800m agreement with the NBN Co in June 2011 for the migration of its hybrid coaxial cable (HFC) customers to the NBN.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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