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An easy decision in a difficult debate

Telstra News

Posted on September 15, 2017

4 min read

Opinions about whether to introduce marriage equality in Australia are strong, be they positive, negative or silent – as is your absolute right.

An inevitable side effect is whether companies (and their leaders!) should be part of such debates.

I am very conscious of the fact that when corporations step into public debates, particularly where there are polarised views, they risk being perceived as trying to use their size and reach to influence an outcome.

For us, the criticism runs along the lines of why does a company like Telstra feel it has authority to offer a view on marriage equality?

For us, our obligation overrules the criticism.

As business leaders, we care deeply about the community of which we are a part and the employees we represent.  We respect and protect their right to work in a diverse and inclusive environment and their right to hold equally diverse views on marriage equality.

Many of our 32,000 employees care deeply for marriage equality as it affects them directly, or a family member or friends.  For us it’s about celebrating equality in all of its forms so our people feel safe, are comfortable, can be proud to love and marry their chosen partner.

Supporting differences, and similarities

We need to be part of the communities in which we operate and that idea plays out most acutely in the diversity and strength of our workforce.

Companies that are diverse and inclusive are also the most effective at attracting and retaining the best talent because they are the best places to work.

Over many years Telstra has developed and rolled out many things to build and encourage diversity and inclusion including:

  • Our support for gender equity, including our work to close the gender pay gap and create gender equality in our recruiting procedures;
  • Our support for our employees that, for family and other reasons, need greater flexibility in their work arrangements;
  • Our support for employees who are victims of domestic violence, including the creation of our Family and Domestic Violence Leave Policy that provides employees with up to 10 days paid leave each year;
  • Our support for our LGBT+ employees including the creation of a thriving internal affinity network; and
  • Through our support for marriage equality.

This is not just a single cause for us, but a universal ambition to provide support for the many walks of life who choose to work and do business with us.

With the greatest respect for the diverse views held, to see marriage equality in the context of diversity and inclusion makes for an easy decision in a difficult debate.

We support diversity and inclusion heart and soul at the most senior levels so we support marriage equality.


Clearly there are many different views on marriage equality amongst our millions of customers, our employees, our shareholders and in the community more broadly.

We are not trying to tell people what to think or what to do.  We are respectful of all sides of the debate.

We are keen to reflect what we hold dear, what makes us who we are as an organisation, and that is passionate, unwavering support for equality, diversity and inclusion.

We want Telstra to be a great place to work, a place to belong, where people bring all of themselves to work and feel valued irrespective of their background, race, religion, age, gender or sexual preference.

If there is one thing we have learnt over many years of working to build a more diverse, more inclusive organisation it is that there are no universal or easy answers.

Making those programs work – and they have worked – has required courage, creativity and a determination to challenge traditional approaches. I am convinced we are a better organisation for it just as I am convinced we should support marriage equality.

Telstra Corporation Limited

Authorised by: Andrew Penn

The Commonwealth government has passed laws to promote a respectful public debate on the marriage law survey. These laws apply to any public statement we make as a company about the survey, and require Telstra to authorise and attribute all communication about the survey. These laws apply from now until the publication of the survey results on 15 November 2017.

Tags: diversity,

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Foxtel, FOX SPORTS Australia to combine

Telstra News

Posted on August 21, 2017

3 min read

Telstra and News Corp today announced their intention to combine Foxtel and FOX SPORTS Australia into a new company, one that is well positioned to deliver premium sports as well as homegrown, original and international entertainment in a rapidly evolving and competitive marketplace.

The move to combine the companies will align ownership and management for success at a time when more Australians are consuming premium content across more technologies and platforms than ever before.

Subject to the conclusion of definitive agreements, regulatory review and satisfaction of certain other conditions, the following key changes will be implemented as part of the new arrangement:

– News Corp will have 65 per cent shareholding in the new company and Telstra will have 35 per cent

– News Corp will appoint the Chairman, majority of the new company’s board and senior executives and Telstra will appoint the remaining directors

The new company will be positioned to meet the needs of Australian viewers and create greater choice than ever before by:

– Investing in Australian written, produced and directed programming

– Delivering a wider range of new and innovative products and packages across devices and platforms

– Continuing to invest in premium content and technology to meet growing consumer demand

– Expanding distribution channels for the sale of Foxtel and Fox Sports products, and developing greater operating efficiencies across the combined businesses, including distribution

The proposed arrangements will better position the new company for an initial public offering in the future, with News Corp having a majority stake.

If the transaction between Telstra and News Corp is concluded on the proposed terms, News Corp expects to consolidate the new company into its financial statements.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the transaction would provide the new company with a strong platform to flexibly respond to significant changes in the media, communications and content markets.

“Our strategically significant investment in the new company will be an important part of Telstra’s media strategy,” Mr Penn said.

“Under this arrangement Telstra will continue to support the company with our broadcast reseller arrangements which is a major strategic component for us.

“More people are watching more media on more devices for more hours every day of the week, so the demand for media and for content is only going to grow. With a strong premium content proposition and scale subscriber base, the new company will be well positioned to deliver a compelling customer experience.”

News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said, “The proposed restructuring of Foxtel and Fox SPORTS will unlock value for News Corp shareholders and provide a clearer vision into the depth and strength of our Australian assets. The new structure will simplify management control and ensure that the company is best placed to leverage the skills of its talented Australian employees and programme makers.”

“There is no doubt that the world of content is becoming more complicated and competitive, and it is important that Australia has a strong local platform for its great sports and for homegrown creativity, as well as a showcase for international programmes,” Mr Thomson said.

At this stage certain key commercial terms of the proposed transaction have been agreed on a non-binding basis. Telstra and News Corp have signed a binding process agreement under which they will prepare long form agreements to give legal effect to the commercial principles.

Telstra and News Corp will work to finalise the transaction, including obtaining regulatory approval, to be completed in the first half of 2018.


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NATSIAA: We’re proud to be part of this story

Telstra News

Posted on August 14, 2017

3 min read

This year Telstra marks 26 years of support for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) and it was my honour to be in Darwin when the winners were announced on the weekend.

Telstra’s connection with NATSIAA has grown over the years to the point where they are now a source of enormous organisational pride for us and we feel very connected to a very special story.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, with winners of the 2017 Telstra Art Award, Unrupa Rhonda Dick, Anwar Young and Frank Young.

Stories are what Indigenous art is all about and the NATSIAA – open to both contemporary and traditional works – is a platform where these stories can be told and heard.

The stories told at NATSIAA are of country, ceremony, dreaming and a determination to pass on (often sacred) things seen and remembered. Oftentimes there is also commentary on the ongoing struggle with dispossession, despair and identity and this year’s overall winner was no exception.

Wati Kulunypa Tjukurpa (Many Spears – Young Fella Story) by Anwar Young, Unrupa Thonda Dick and Frank Young combined a large digital print and spears arranged as cell bars to comment on the many young Indigenous men who end up in detention. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful work and also one that I am sure will prompt some serious soul searching in many who see it.

A universal positive

The paradox of the many challenges faced by Indigenous Australians is that it has brought forward so many extraordinary artists.

For indigenous communities, where there are many issues, art is a universal positive and the incredible power of the work comes from the fact that it is one way, one medium, where communities and generations can stay connected to each other.

It provides a sense of purpose, both for those directly involved and for those of us seeking to better understand Indigenous culture and history. It also brings some much needed economic benefit to communities.

Beyond the Awards

Beyond the NATSIAA Telstra’s relationship with indigenous Australians continues to grow and it is our determination to make it stronger.

Just how strong is spelled out in our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which includes programs as diverse installing new mobile base stations and broadband in remote communities to funding research to better understand the nature of cyber bullying in an Aboriginal context; from programs to build digital literacy to promoting Telstra as an employer of choice for Indigenous people.

Our RAP says reconciliation requires more than just words; it says we are accountable, it says we want to achieve something meaningful, it says we are in this heart and soul.

This determination to connect meaningfully also extends to our involvement in the NATSIAA.

Pulse and power

The Telstra NATSIAA now have enormous momentum and global significance. The Awards are part of an extraordinary Indigenous artistic eco-system that stretches right across the land, deep back into the past and energetically toward the future. All of the works displayed carry their own unique pulse and power and contribute to a deeper-thinking Australian society through the fearless sharing of art, and stories.

We are all richer for it, and Telstra is extremely proud to be involved. We are part of this story.

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How we’re riding the 4G (and soon to be 5G) express train to the future

featured Network

Posted on July 12, 2017

8 min read

What if the volume of traffic on your local roads increased tenfold overnight? It would be gridlocked. That is the sort of increase we expect on telecommunication networks over the next few years as data volumes radically increase. Here is how we are preparing to make sure we continue to provide customers with the best network experience.

A set of technologies come straight to mind when I think about the future.

A ubiquitous Internet of Things. Autonomous vehicles. Virtual and augmented reality. Smarter smartphones. Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Technology that creates personalised customer experiences that bring simplicity instead of added complexity.

All of these technologies not only exist today, they are fast becoming mainstream.

All of these technologies have already signaled just how profoundly they will change our world.

And all of these technologies rely on the quality of the underlying telecommunication networks.

There is virtually no technology innovation that is happening today that does not depend on connectivity and being networked. As a consequence, the volume of data going across global telecommunications networks will increase dramatically over the next few years. Estimates of a tenfold increase in global mobile IP traffic between 2015 and 2020 will outstrip the ability of today’s networks to cope with the number of devices, data volumes and demands for speed. It’s a challenge that is driving the development of a completely new type of network.

Robust and reliable

For most people, telecommunications networks are largely out of sight and out of mind. Mobile towers dot the landscape, but otherwise the network is mostly invisible. Behind the scenes though, hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested globally over many years to carefully create something incredible. To understand just how incredible, it is useful to know a little of how telecommunications networks actually function.

Let’s take a simple example, taking and sharing a photo on a Smartphone, something we all do almost every day. Before you take your phone out of your pocket and turn it on, it has already been listening to signals from mobile towers around you, quietly making sure you are tuned to the strongest signal. When you switch your phone on it automatically shares a secret key with your mobile providers’ authentication system, identifies who you are and gives you access if your credentials are in order.

Taking a photo and posting it to a photo sharing site such as Instagram, only takes a couple of seconds, but on the network—behind the scenes—a flood of activity is going on. The mobile tower your phone was listening to might have been busily serving hundreds of other users but it takes careful notice when it gets a message from your phone that you have some data you want to send.

Before your phone can send the photo it needs the IP address of where it is going. To get this, your phone asks the network to find and provide the address of the nearest computer server of the photo sharing site. The network responds by setting up a “pipe” through the network and into the internet for you. It allocates your phone some air time. Your photo is now broken down into packets of data which start to be sent from your phone over radio waves to the mobile tower. From the mobile tower these packets then travel down fibre optic cables at the base of the mobile tower into the core network. Yes, virtually every Telstra mobile tower you see is connected by a fibre optic cable to the core network.

Other towers around you also take an interest in case you move to an area where they might offer a better signal. If that happens your connection will be passed seamlessly to a new mobile tower as they work out which is better able to serve you.

Dozens of switches and routers begin finding a path from your phone to that server (which can be anywhere in the world) and your data is passed along. As the data is being sent, the network and your phone are continually adjusting things to keep you connected. The signal power is adjusted thousands of times per second.

Finally the packets of data that comprise your photo are reassembled and are stored and shared for eternity. Job done. The pipe that was so carefully set up disappears and your phone goes back to listening quietly to the network until you are ready to upload another photo or do something else.

All of that happens in the blink of an eye.

And when you consider 2.5 trillion photos were taken and stored online in 2016, you get a sense for its utility and capability, to say nothing of the myriad of other things the network also does.

The simplicity and immediacy of being able to connect is in contrast to the complexity and scale of the infrastructure that makes it possible. At Telstra, we have created 5,000 exchanges, more than 200,000 routers, 8,600 mobile towers, almost 250,000 kms of fibre optic cable with another 400,000 kms of sub-sea cable connectivity to the rest of the world, as well as 58 data centres. This enables our customers to make, on average, 55 million calls and 356 million data connections every day.

Evolution will give way to revolution

None of the capabilities of today’s 3G and 4G networks are accidental. Development and investment has been constant and technical evolution rapid. 1G – the first generation – in the mid-80s was basic voice on an analogue network. Next came 2G in the early 90s that combined talk and text, then 3G linking wireless connectivity with digital networks to make internet access possible on a mobile phone. 4G took it a step further with higher speeds and lower latencies that improve video viewing.

Until now, network development has largely been evolutionary but the next generation – 5G – will be revolutionary. And it needs to be because while 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G were primarily about voice and then data, 5G will be about everything and the Internet of (billions of) Things.

The best way to understand 5G is to realise that it is more than just a faster, better and more efficient network for mobile phones. What sets 5G apart from earlier generations is its ability to respond to signals almost instantaneously. The latency (the sometimes frustrating lag between a request for data being sent and the data being received) on a 5G level is reduced to insignificant levels. On an older 3G phone, latency was around 100 milliseconds. Ten years of development and investment meant 4G latency was down to 30 milliseconds. With 5G though, typical latency will be as little as 4 milliseconds and may go as low as 1 millisecond for ultra-critical IoT applications.

While 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G were primarily about voice and then data, 5G will be about everything and the Internet of (billions of) Things.

Why does that matter? It matters because while we may be able to put up with one tenth of a second delay when sending a photo – that length of delay will not work in the emerging body of applications requiring virtually instant response times. For example self-driving cars will need to be able to react almost instantly to obstacles and traffic directions to be able to safely navigate autonomously through busy traffic. Minimal delay means doctors will be able to perform surgery remotely. It means sensor-laden houses and factories, smart electricity grids and other infrastructure will make adjustments without human intervention and deliver huge efficiencies and cost savings. It means conversations in foreign languages will be able to be translated instantaneously. It means things we have not even dreamt of yet. And most of all, it means the importance, reliability and capability of telecommunication networks – which will make all of this possible – will never have been more important.

Planning for an unknown future

What is really interesting about planning and building a 5G network (which we will have operational in Australia by 2019/20) is that the full range of opportunities will not be clear when the networks are launched. They will evolve with the market and with technology advances. We know where we have come from, we know where we are (and certainly how to get your photos quickly to your photo sharing sites) but we have no real idea what types of things the network will enable in the future. Because with 5G what we can imagine it will do is likely nothing compared with what it will actually end up doing. In that way 5G, like the future, is inventing itself.

If you want to learn more about the types of work you can do in technology at Telstra you’re already in the right place.

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Time to end uncertainty over regional investment


Posted on May 5, 2017

2 min read

Telstra is ready to continue our investment in regional Australia. But we need the ACCC to end the uncertainty and finalise their decision on regulated mobile roaming.

We welcome the ACCC’s draft decision not to declare mobile roaming.

Dozens of community groups, business leaders, local councils and politicians from across the country made a submission to the ACCC. The overwhelming call from regional Australia was that their top priority was encouraging telecommunications investment to improve and extend mobile coverage.

This draft decision is the right one for regional Australian communities because it ensures the industry still has the incentives to invest in improving and extending mobile networks to provide more coverage.

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say on this critical issue, including the WA Farmers Association, the Country Women’s Association of NSW, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Cotton Australia, Indigenous Remote Communications Australia, the Local Government Association of Queensland and the Isolated Children’s Parents Association.

Last year Telstra committed to keep investing to improve and expand our mobile network in regional, rural and remote areas. Through our own direct investment, as well as co-investment, we expect to see up to $1 billion of investment flow to small towns and regional centres across the country over the next five years.

If this decision is confirmed we will immediately move to expand our 4G coverage to reach 99% of the population by later this year. It also paves the way for ongoing investment in the coming years that would see an additional 1.4 million square kilometres of 4G coverage for regional and rural Australia. This means that about 600 base stations will be upgraded from 3G to 4G giving the Australian population access to a world leading 4G network.

This draft decision means we are one step closer to being able to get on with this exciting work that will have positive impacts on people who live, work and visit regional areas.

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