Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has poured cold water on media reports that Telstra will be handed a 49 per cent stake in the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) if it cleaves off its wholesale arm.
The Australian reported last month that the government will offer Telstra a 49 per cent stake in the NBN if it is split into separate wholesale and retail arms, and 20 per cent if it sells its fibre infrastructure to the government and functionally separates.
Conroy told reporters at the Digital Technologies Summit in Sydney yesterday the government has not decided on under what conditions Telstra will be allowed a 49 per cent stake in the NBN Co.
“We are keeping an open mind about what propositions people want to put forward... we won't pre-empt discussion,” Conroy said.
The minister has not met with Optus to discuss its calls for Telstra to be structurally separated, but said Telstra chief David Thodey was “very positive” during a brief meeting.
“The [Telstra] board wants to move from where it was to a better position,” Conroy said.
The government is waiting on results of an NBN study before deciding the stakeholder cap for vertically integrated telcos, but Conroy said it will legislate to avoid both arms of a functionally separated company from buy-in.
“If a company was a vertically integrated monopoly or former monopoly and it wanted to vend in, in its current structure, then it [may] be allowed 15 to 20 per cent. If, in the future, any company changed its structure then it is possible that we could consider a changed set of circumstances,” he said in Senate Estimates.
Conroy referred to pending discussions regarding whether the NBN should be a monopoly, but said the government has “no need to cut [Telstra's] copper lines”.