Telstra eyes voluntary redundancies as part of SDN shift

Increased emphasis on SDN requires new skills, telco says

Telstra has confirmed it has proposed a round of voluntary redundancies for members of its Networks Delivery team.

“We are proposing a voluntary redundancy process for our Delivery employees, as it enables Telstra to balance the needs of the business and considers the personal preferences of our people,” a spokesperson for the telco said. If the proposal goes ahead, Telstra will seek 120 voluntary redundancies.

The telco said that the shift towards software-defined networking meant it required a different mix of skills in its teams.

“The next generation of technology brings the need for new skills focussed on software defined networks, rather than traditional construction of an infrastructure-based network,” the spokesperson said. “We acknowledge some of our people may not wish to undertake the reskilling required.”

“We don’t take decisions like this lightly and over the last week we have been consulting with our people and unions to ensure we made the right decision for our employees, our customers and our business,” the spokesperson said.

“We are committed to providing Australians with the next generation of technology and to provide our customers with the best possible network experience.”

During a full year results briefing in August, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn flagged an increased focus on software-defined networking architecture “to build a more programmable and flexible network that we can scale easier at lower cost”.

Telstra in March unveiled a service based on SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) technology that will enable business and enterprise customers to set up bandwidth on demand between data centres, their own premises and into public cloud services, as well as provision virtual network appliances such as firewalls.

“This is the latest in a number of recent moves designed to reshape the technical workforce, in large part (but not wholly) in response to the impacts of the NBN project on Telstra’s operations,” a Communications Workers Union statement said.

“In Customer Service Delivery Telstra is scrambling to meet the dual demands of its own internal maintenance work and its NBN Operations and Maintenance contract. It has introduced overtime rosters, is recruiting trainees and has advertised a number of fixed term positions in the field workforce.

“Its failure to win any major part of the NBN construction work, however, has placed a question mark over the future of this part of its operations. ”

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