Telstra facing AUD40 million fine for blocking exchange access

25 May 2010

Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra is facing an AUD40 million (USD33.22 million) fine for breaching obligations related to allowing its competitors access to its exchanges, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is looking to levy a penalty against Telstra for each occasion it refused rivals access to its exchanges; under existing legislation the watchdog is allowed to apply fines of up to AUD10 million for each of the 27 incidences of refusal, but it is understood that as the telco has admitted it mistakenly rejected applications the ACCC is considering smaller penalties. Telstra for its part has admitted that it wrongly denied access to alternative operators, although it has claimed that the errors were the result of junior staff acting improperly, rather than following an official company policy. The final decision on whether Telstra will be charged rests with the Federal Court, and both the ACCC and Telstra have made their final submissions in the case.