Australian incumbent Telstra is reportedly preparing to increase the prices charged to its rivals for wholesale access to its copper network by 20%, The Australian reports. It is understood that Telstra has sent out a revised wholesale contract document to its competitors detailing the proposed price hikes, with the cost of wholesale line rental set to rise from AUD24 (USD22.3) per month to AUD31 per month. While alternative operators are understandably dismayed at the development, it remains unlikely that they will have any means by which to fight such a move; although the changes will be subject to negotiations between Telstra and each individual operator, the incumbent’s proposed increase falls in line with indicative pricing set by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in December 2009.
Should the wholesale access price rise it remains likely that it will be consumers that would bear the brunt of the increases, with most operators expected to hike retail pricing in response to the move. Suggestions have been made that Telstra’s decision to renegotiate wholesale prices at higher levels is a direct attempt by the telco to shore up its wholesale division prior to proposed legislative changes to the country’s telecoms sectors. Commenting on the development, one unnamed access seeker noted: ‘It’s amazing that this is going on while Telstra is saying that there is no discrimination in the wholesale market and that the government’s plans to reform the telecoms regulatory sector are not needed.’