iTWire is reporting that the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) has reiterated the findings of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that there is a case for lessening regulation regarding access to the wholesale voice service of incumbent Telstra in certain metropolitan areas. According to both the ACT and the ACCC, in those metropolitan regions and central business districts where competition is sufficiently developed, regulation of local carriage service (LCS), wholesale line rental (WLR) and PSTN originating access (PTSN OA) services could be removed. The investigation into the matter follows an application by Telstra back in 2007 seeking exemption from offering the aforementioned services in approximately 250 exchanges; the telco claimed that the presence of DSLAM equipment belonging to one or more competitors indicated that competition in the area was present, and it argued that removing the regulations would encourage investment. After the ACCC agreed to the proposals, albeit with some exceptions and conditions, broadband operator iiNet appealed to the ACT to have the ACCC decision reversed however. Telstra subsequently appealed the ACT’s decision in the Federal Court, which in March 2009 called on the ACT to review the matter once more.
Under the latest findings the ACT has varied the ACCC’s initial decision to exempt these services in the exchanges in question; ‘Whether an exemption will apply in a particular area will depend on a number of factors, including the number of Telstra’s competitors already using the unbundled local loop service (ULLS) in that area as well as their market share,’ a statement from the ACCC said. In addition, the ACCC will also be required to publish a list of geographic areas where the exemptions apply on a bi-annual basis. No exemptions are expected to come into effect before the end of 2010 however.