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Switkowski: transforming Telstra into a high-tech telco

01 June 1999

Telstra, Australia's incumbent telco, has a significant broadband footprint, satellite capacity, two wireless networks and the largest ISP and cable TV company in the country. The company is now focusing on data/Internet and E-commerce growth opportunities. Telstra's new CEO Ziggy Switkowski talks to Mark Holmes about the operator's high-tech, high-growth strategy.

In February 1999 Ziggy Switkowski was appointed the new CEO of Telstra, the incumbent operator in Australia, which is still majority state-owned. His appointment came as surprise to many, as Patric Russel, a telecoms equity analyst at Merrill Lynch, explains: "Well it was a bit of a surprise when Ziggy Switkowski was appointed CEO, because it took so long. Then they ended up with an internal candidate. He came from their major competitor, so he understands the landscape in Australia."

Russel believes that Telstra is one of the most forward-thinking incumbent telcos around: "The company is richly endowed with assets. It has a lot of technological flexibility with two wireless networks, GSM and AMPS, migrating to CDMA. It has a relatively large modern copper network. It has the capacity to migrate to DSL. It has got a very large broadband footprint. It has got fibre-optic rings in the cities. It has got satellite capacity. It...