The telecommunications industry lacks a united voice and players should work together to drive better customer service and technology innovations rather than letting regulators take charge, Telstra CEO, David Thodey, said.
Speaking at the CommsDay Summit 2011, the Telstra chief said the industry is bogged down by policy reforms and should focus more on transformational technology.
Certainly the telco landscape has been dominated by a plethora of policy changes.
Last year, the Federal Government bill to amend the Telecommunications Act 1997 was passed and which compelled Telstra to structurally separate its retail and wholesale arms to promote a level playing-field. The ACCC was also granted additional powers to regulate the telco industry.
“We are still caught up in peripheral issues rather that significant ones,” Thodey said. “If you look at Canberra, it is only left to a few to address what is happening in the telco industry rather than really applying them.
Telco providers have long been plagued by a poor reputation in customer service. Vodafone was the latest casualty to suffer bad press for network and customer service failures, taking away some focus on Telstra’s reputed longstanding customer service shortcomings.
Both telcos have committed to cleaning up their act.
“The industry has not stepped up as one to say this is an important issue we need to deal with,” Thodey said. “What I am worried about is regulators stepping in to force us to give better customer service and I find that shocking.
“It is not the role of the regulators to give good customer service; it is what good business people do because it delivers a good outcome."
The industry should be not be driven by what regulation dictates but should be motivated by practicing good business practices and responsible social governance, he said.
“It is not a regulator issue, it is an industry issue,” Thodey said.
He added the industry lacks leadership and should get its act together.
Using the mining sector as an example, Thodey claimed it is possible for the telco players to compete fiercely but still speak with a common voice.
With the telco industry making up a large portion of the Australian economy, telcos working together is paramount for driving innovation in the sector.
“Technology will be at the heart of industry restructuring [across the board] as we go forward.
It is uncertain how other telco providers will react to this call to arms as many of them have a long history of butting heads with Telstra.
The CommsDay Summit 2011 concludes on Wednesday.