Double blow for Telstra following ACCC and Federal Court rulings

23 Sep 2008

Australian news source itWire is reporting that the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) has rejected a move by Telstra aimed at denying fixed line rival Optus the ability to offer telephony services on Telstra’s network in areas where Optus has its own fibre infrastructure. The ruling comes following a December 2007 application by Telstra seeking exemptions from access obligations for any of its services that would have enabled Optus to offer a telephone service to any customer premises within 75 metres of Optus’ HFC network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; Telstra has argued in the past that Optus’ preference for using wholesale Telstra services indicates that the ACCC has forced it to set wholesale prices that are too low. The ACCC ruling stated that singling out any competitor would represent a discriminatory access policy that could discourage investment.

Telstra has also lost an appeal to have the Federal Court overturn three ACCC wholesale pricing decisions; Primus Telecommunications, Chime Communications (iiNet) and Request Broadband (AAPT) individually lodged access disputes with the ACCC between December 2004 and April 2006 after failing to reach an agreement with Telstra on the terms and prices for access to Telstra’s copper network to deliver broadband services. The ACCC arbitrated the disputes and specified terms to apply until 31 December 2007 but Telstra initiated legal proceedings in the Federal Court challenging these decisions in August 2007. ‘This decision affirms the ACCC’s approach to the arbitration of disputes between telecommunications providers’, said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.

In related news, today, Pacnet became the second Aussie ISP to offer ADSL2+ services (after People Telecom, which has yet to launch) as part of a wider AUD35 million (USD29.2 million) per year agreement with Telstra Wholesale. The operator will offer services from 23 September from all 1400 Telstra ADSL2+ enabled exchanges at prices starting from AUD74.95 per month, targeting both consumers and SMBs.

Australia, Optus, Pacific Internet (PacNet) Australia, Telstra (incl. Belong)