Telstra is a telecommunications services company that was founded in the 1970s and is headquartered in Australia. It offers mobile and fixed-line broadband services, data and IP solutions, and network applications and services. In June 2019, the company had more than 18 million retail mobile subscribers and almost 4 million fixed broadband customers in Australia. Telstra also provides business services across Asia, Europe and the Americas, with data centres in Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong.
Telstra is a leading company in terms of improving access to digital technologies, with multiple programmes targeted at vulnerable groups across Australia. Its Access for Everyone programme helps low-income users access network services through discounted plans. Meanwhile, its Safe Connections programme helps women who have suffered domestic violence access safe and secure communications. Telstra discloses how it distributes the economic value it creates among its stakeholders.
In contrast to other digital companies, Telstra has digital skills initiatives across the spectrum, from basic to advanced. Its partnership in the Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Initiative focuses on teaching advanced digital skills to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The IDX Initiative provides training and equipment for participants to develop applications that help preserve language and culture. In addition, Telstra has partnered with the South Australian government to connect more than 500 schools to a high-speed fibre network.
Telstra has cybersecurity oversight and accountability embedded at the senior leadership level, which is a best practice in this area. In addition, the Telstra Computer Emergency Response Team forms part of a broader Security Operations Centre that monitors cybersecurity for the company and its customers 24/7. Telstra’s Chief Executive Officer is the chair of the Australian Government’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy Industry Advisory Panel, a group of industry experts developing a cybersecurity framework for Australian businesses. Telstra is also one of the few companies that not only reports the number of data breaches that occur but also how many customers are affected by them.
Telstra is committed to open innovation and collaboration with universities on sustainability and big data. Its Tech4Good Challenge is an incubator for non-profits that are using digital technology to support young people from vulnerable communities. Telstra demonstrates open source collaboration, including hosting a knowledge sharing event in partnership with Linux Foundation Networking and the Open Networking Foundation. The company is working with the Australian Government to pilot the country’s AI Ethics Framework.
Telstra operates several programmes focused on access; however, it only seeks third-party assessments on a few of them. Third-party assessment is vital for understanding the impacts of these programmes on digital inclusion. In some cases, where third-party assessments have been conducted, the results are not publicly available and therefore the impacts of the initiatives are not transparent.