Telstra, Australia’s dominant telecommunications carrier, was disqualified by the government from a bidding process that envisions the deployment of a national broadband network (NBN), as government officials cited the company’s failure to outline its plans on the involvement of small- and medium-size enterprises in the US $6.7 billion project. Handed down on Monday, the government’s decision precipitated a 12% drop in Telstra’s share price amidst concerns over potential loss of market share. Observers say the exclusion of Telstra from the tender process significantly improves prospects for Optus-Terria, a consortium headed by the Australian unit of Singapore Telecommunications that is widely expected to win the NBN license. Other interested bidders include Axia NetMedia of Canada and Acacia, a local consortium. Although David Conroy, Australia’s minister for broadband communications, explained that “the Telstra board failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of the request for proposals,” Telstra Chairman Donald McGauchie said his company had “fully complied” with those requirements. Commenting on the data sought by the government (which, allegedly, Telstra declined to submit on grounds that it might trigger the forced structural separation of its operations), McGauchie dismissed the government’s request as “peripheral,” as he complained: “this is a process that seemingly excludes bidders on . . . trivial and legally questionable technicalities but doesn’t take action on material issues such as financing and having the technical capability to build the network.” (Telstra maintains that it is the only company among the pool of bidders to commit U.S. $3.47 billion in financing that would be augmented by the government with an additional $3.26 billion outlay.) Noting that the tender process has yet to expire, Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo said the government could decide to resume negotiations with Telstra if proposals offered by rival bidders prove inadequate.