Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why now?

Writing in the AFR (not online) both Laura Tingle and Dominic White speculate on the implications of the timing of Conroy's digital dividend green paper release. White writes;

In a sense, yesterday's announcement gives Telstra an extra incentive to a deal.

Tingle goes further saying;

..the announcement was widely interpreted in the telecommunications industry as being timed to maximise pressure on Telstra in its negotiations with the government over structural separation of its business.

I don't know who in the industry Tingle spoke to, but that is a long bow - nothing in that paper made the date of the spectrum release any sooner, nor is the amount to be released really in dispute.

If anything this paper was delayed, not brought forward, and nothing about the timing of the paper really will change the incentives on Telstra. Any NBN or separation deal needs to be concluded in months, the auction is still at least a year and a half away (the earliest possible would be two years before switch-off in June 2013).

There is however a linkage with the satellite plan for digital television. Conroy has to spend money for that, and to spend money he has to announce that he will really get the dividend. The Green Paper has been much delayed, but it looks like the delay was probably more to do with timing it with the satellite announcement.

More curiously is why either of them were announced when Conroy is actually on leave. My suspicion is the satellite announcement had been waiting for funding approval, but that it sits on the critical path of switch off.

It is a pity when EVERYTHING is seen through a filter of its impact on Telstra.

NOTE: This post has been amended from the original to more accurately reflect the comments of the journalists.

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