CeBIT 2011: Optus' O'Sullivan calls for open access content

Optus' chief Paul O'Sullivan warns of new content monopolies; calls on ACCC to enforce "must share" rules in Foxtel-Austar merger

Optus chief, Paul O'Sullivan

Optus chief, Paul O'Sullivan

Optus chief Paul O’Sullivan has used his address at CeBIT 2011 in Sydney to call for a new wave of regulatory reform aimed at ensuring the number two telco is not locked out of the next mobility boom: content and applications.

See photos and all the action from the event.

O’Sullivan applauded the regulatory reform work in breaking up incumbent Telstra and called communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, “the most reformist of ministers since competition was introduced in the sector in 1992” but warned of new monopolies in the area of content provision.

“While great work has been done we now need to move to the next level,” he said. “We need a far more rigorous debate in Australia about how we can ensure a level playing filed for competition at the level of applications and content.

“The key concept here is open access. We need to ensure that all application developers and content developers retain open access to everyone’s digital networks… and vice versa that every network has access to them.”

O’Sullivan pointed to Foxel’s $1.52 per share takeover offer for fellow subscription broadcaster Austar as an instance of new content monopolies being formed and called on the ACCC to create “must share” content provisions as part of any merger approval.

“There is a real threat here that we allow those with deep pockets to try and tie up content; to create walled gardens; to create content monopolies which restrict people’s access to content and to innovative applications,” he said.

“We are particularly concerned about the proposed mergers of Austar and Foxtel will create a further barrier to competitively accessing content.”

The Optus chief argued that while massive investment was being made in communications infrastructure equal investment also had to be made in new regulations.

“We are seeing this overseas with regulators such as Ofcom introducing new rules to ensure premium quality content cannot be locked up on an exclusive basis. It is not just the UK; the US, France, Italy, Spain have all taken similar steps and we as a company are abiding by similar rules in Singapore.”

Commenting on the way in which mobility was transforming the workplace O’Sullivan added that changes in security, network intelligence, a new work culture, and strong and aggressive regulation were needed for the next era in productivity and economic gains.

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