By Patrick Avenell

Telstra has today viscously attacked its rival broadband providers, calling them pretenders and virtually accusing them of bankruptcy.

In a statement issued today, Telstra alleged that Terria, which is a consortium of rival broadband providers, including Optus, Primus, Telecom and Soul, had “no intention of ever participating in the construction process for the National Broadband Network.”

"Terria is an $8 shelf company, with no assets, no financial plan and no funding. It cannot be trusted with a project as critical as the National Broadband Network,” said Telstra public policy and communication group managing director David Quilty.

“Taxpayers cannot afford to face the real risk of having to bail out Terria from financial difficulties a couple of years down the track.

"It is time for the great pretender to show us the money or get out of the way.

"If they don’t have their finances secured, then why are we delaying the build for a moment longer? Australia’s biggest infrastructure project is being held up by a ramshackle outfit that has never actually wanted to build National Broadband Network," he said.

As amusing as this rant is, it is a serious issue for regional and rural Australians, for whom a high speed broadband network has been promised for so long. Terria bid manager Michael Simmons can deflect negative attention by pointing to the current economic crisis, but many Australians are still likely to side with Quilty, who described the situation as ‘embarrassing’.