Michael Malone, chief executive of Perth-based iiNet, Australia's third largest internet service provider, said today that the Federal Government must ensure Australians continue to have access to an open, fair and competitive telecommunications industry, following a major strategic announcement made by the largest internet player Telstra."The current Federal Government policy on competition in the telecommunications market is working and the government must maintain its course," said Mr Malone, founder and chief executive of iiNet."Three key factors are evidence of the success of this new competitive environment: first, the increased availability of new information and telecommunications services and products across the country; second, the billions of dollars being invested by companies into the industry and third, the fact that Telstra has had to undertake this major strategic review to reposition itself in the new market."iiNet is already offering services to consumers today that Telstra has announced it will launch in the coming years, such as; Voice over IP Telephony (a telephone service over the Internet) and ADSL2 broadband, which offers consumers broadband at speeds of up to 12mbs."Our current broadband product significantly exceeds Telstra's existing broadband offering that runs at speeds only up to 1.5mbs.""Throughout today's presentations key Telstra staff constantly referred to the 'regulatory environment'.""Make no mistake, this is just part of an ongoing strategy of pressuring the Federal Government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to allow Telstra to dominate and control the industry, re-monopolise the networks and prevent competitors from having fair access to the market and infrastructure," added Mr Malone."Telstra's new strategy of deployment of 'Fibre to the Node' appears good at first but is a highly visible attempt to freeze competition out of key metropolitan areas. By installing short stretches of fibre, Telstra will prevent access for its competitors to the copper lines, at the telephone exchange.""Australians have benefited enormously from the current policy environment. A change in direction now will not benefit Australian customers, competition, the industry or the Australian economy.""The government and the ACCC must continue to ensure that competition is allowed to continue and grow. We are confident they will see through Telstra's ongoing attempts to wind back the clock and re-monopolise the market.""We welcome Senator Coonan's sensible comments today that "The government is proud of the fact that it provides a robust regulatory regime that has developed telecommunications competition in Australia. The government concentrates on regulating service delivery for all consumers by all telecommunications companies.""As a vocal champion of competition, we welcome Telstra's decision attempt to try and play catch up to market innovators and focus on improving its products and services to customers. We know that it makes sense for both customers and the future of the Australian economy to have a robust and competitive telecommunications industry," he said.
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