'I changed Australia': Sol Trujillo
Sol Trujillo's scorn for the Rudd Government's $43 billion
national broadband plan on the sidelines of a technology
conference in the US prompted a rebuke from Australia's consul-general to New York, Phil Scanlan, and dismay among
others who regard the project as cutting edge.
The Australian (WSJ)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Apart from changing Telstra he claims to have also "changed Australia".
is featuring prominently at the annual Future in Review
conference -- a gathering of some of the leading players in the
internet and technology industries around the globe -- because
of the interest in the national broadband plan.
But in a 30-minute discussion in
San Diego yesterday before delegates on
his experience as a telecommunications chief executive, the
former Telstra CEO railed against government intervention in the
markets and studiously avoided mention of the national broadband
"I can give you thousands of examples in our industry ...
because I have worked around the world, where governments have
built, owned and controlled things and that is generally where
you don't see innovation," he told the conference.
A day earlier, in an interview with
The Australian, Mr Trujillo barely hid his scorn for the
NBN, doubting it would get off the ground and implying it was a
Mr Scanlan, who is attending the conference and who, before he
took up the New York post earlier
this year, had been privately championing a new national optic
fibre network, said the plan was no bluff.
"The response here at the conference has demonstrated that there
is a real belief that the Australian Government is committed in
substance to seeing this through, and already there has been a
range of interest expressed in exploring opportunities," he told
"A telecommunication company pales in comparison to nation
building and this (the NBN) will be key to industries driving
innovation." Under the plan, more than 90 per cent of
premises around Australia will have access to fibre
optic cable, creating a super fast internet network able to
transfer massive files in an instant, superseding the copper
wire networks run by Telstra.
However, many question the business case for the network.
Internet pioneer Larry Smarr, a physicist at the
San Diego, who has advocated a fibre rollout in Australia, said:
"We are at the end of the age of copper. All countries
with copper are struggling to make the jump from one to the
He lauded the Rudd Government's plan as "breathtaking".
Mr Trujillo, in a keynote conversation with Professor Smarr
yesterday, was keen to champion his own success at taking big
bets as Telstra chief executive, namely on new mobile networks.
He claimed he not only "fundamentally changed how the company
operated but I would argue changed Australia".
Professor Smarr noted how the telecommunications industry often
historically included a mix of government involvement.
"I am ... a very firm believer in markets and letting markets
work," Mr Trujillo countered.