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Telstra calls for near halving of NBN wholesale price

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(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Australia’s incumbent carrier has said something needs to give when it comes to reselling services on the National Broadband Network (NBN), as current arrangements are unsustainable.

Speaking to shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday, CEO Andy Penn said Australians are paying some of the highest prices in the world for broadband, and that the price is likely to continue increasing unless wholesale charges are addressed.

“The current arrangements are unsustainable, and ultimately this can only lead to poorer service and higher prices for broadband for all Australians,” Penn said.

“[The wholesale price] has to come down, and not by AU$2, but by more than AU$20.”

Penn said the rate charged by Telstra and set by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to its competitors for ADSL services is around AU$20, while NBN is charging AU$44 per month currently, and is set to increase to AU$51 by 2022.

Telstra is expecting that by the time the NBN is completed, it will part with AU$2.5 billion each year to NBN, which is part of the reason why the telco is implementing its Telstra2022 plan.

Must read: Telstra2022: Key takeaways from Telstra’s new strategy

Chair John Mullen said the company had believed there could still be money made from selling NBN services until recently.

“The NBN will have reduced Telstra’s net profit after tax by close to a half when fully rolled out. Not a few per cent, half,” Mullen said. “Having been privatised by the government in 1997, the government is now effectively re-nationalising half of the company again.”

“To give some scale to that impact, what we are losing through this policy of half our business is approximately equivalent to a company the size of Qantas.”

In its August full-year results, the company reported net profit of AU$3.5 billion, down 9 percent, on AU$26 billion of revenue.

The telco reported customer base growth across both fixed and mobile.

On the back of reduced profitability, lower dividends, as well as planned job cuts as part of Telstra2022 and protracted bargaining negotiations with staff, the company is fighting against plans to vote down proposed executive remuneration.

“I personally believe that executive salaries are too high across the board, but changing this takes time and needs to be embraced by all of corporate Australia, not just one company or one industry, as the marketplace for talent is international and is industry agnostic,” Mullen said.

“We are trying to do our bit in Telstra, however, and this can be seen by the fact that David Thodey’s salary was lower than Sol Trujillo’s, Andy Penn’s salary is lower than David Thodey’s, and I expect that Andy’s eventual successor will receive a lower salary again.

“Andy himself has seen his actual remuneration drop by almost 50 percent over the last two years as the company has been under pressure, so we are not only reducing overall remuneration levels, but our remuneration clearly does flex downwards with shareholder outcomes, even when management has done a good job.”

Speaking last week, Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland argued that with the majority of NBN deployment in motion, the political debate must shift from its technological makeup to the future of its economics.

“The NBN rollout has also reached a point where it is almost entirely in design, construction, or deployed — a reality which cannot be undone through political will or legislative change,” Rowland said.

“As a result, there is likely to be less emphasis on the issues which have been the focal point for the last five years, and a greater focus on the medium-term policy settings — namely, the economics of the NBN.

“Looking forward, this becomes the main game … it would be sensible for the major parties to identify common ground on the next steps where feasible to do so.”

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Cars

Check out the 2+2 Chevrolet Corvette that never was

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The 60s was an iconic era in the automotive realm in the United States, with some incredibly popular cars getting their start then Vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, and Dodge Charger, to name a few. Sometimes it takes one vehicle to change the industry and spawn many similar products from the other automakers. Case in point is Ford and its Mustang, which kicked off the pony car era eliciting responses with other iconic vehicles.

Another of the iconic Ford vehicles in the era that sold extremely well was the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird routinely outsold the Chevrolet Corvette. Early in its production, the Thunderbird was a two-seat sports car very similar to the Corvette. It grew in later generations, becoming a 2+2, offering a back seat to carry more passengers. The vehicle in the image above looks like the iconic 60s split-window Corvettes that are so valuable today, but there’s a key difference.

The difference is readily apparent when you look at the side view image in the Instagram post below, where General Motors Design shared photos of a one-off design buck. A design buck is essentially the shell of the vehicle used by automotive designers of the day to get the vehicle’s design just right. This particular example was never powered and never cruised the streets.

The car was a response to the Thunderbird, adding backseats to the Corvette in 1962. Sadly, the 2+2 Corvette was never built, and reports indicate the design buck was later crushed. Another interesting tidbit is that GM reportedly brought in a Ferrari to help with the styling and proportions of the car.

As for what finally became of the project, a GM executive named Bunkie Knudsen, who was part of the styling team but wasn’t a fan of the project, reportedly worked to get the project scrapped. He believed it would taint the Corvette brand and wouldn’t sell in large enough numbers to justify building it. The only Corvettes ever sold by GM have all been two-seat sports cars.

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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