ACCC seeks comment on declared fixed line service geographic exemptions

2 Sep 2011

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced the launch of a public inquiry regarding possible variations to geographic exemptions from regulation that are currently applied to wholesale line rental (WLR), local carriage service (LCS) and PSTN Originating Access (PSTN OA) services. Having issued final access determinations for the services in question back in July 2011, the regulator at that date had noted that ‘the issue of the future operation of the exemptions relating to the WLR, LCS and PSTN OA services required further investigation and consideration.’ ACCC chairman Rod Sims was cited as claiming that the exemption provisions effectively deregulated certain central business district (CBD) and metropolitan exchange service areas. The ACCC meanwhile noted that the exemptions in effect allowed fixed line incumbent Telstra and other carriers providing resale services to set their own price and non-price terms and conditions in a manner which may differ from the regulated price and non-price terms and conditions set by the regulator. Further, it was claimed that under the existing regime there is no obligation on Telstra or other carriers to supply these resale services in the exempt areas. ‘Geographic areas become exempt when certain conditions for the competitive supply of resale services have been met,’ Mr Sims noted, adding: ‘This public inquiry will seek submissions from interested parties on whether the exemption provisions in the FADs should be varied, revoked or maintained.’ Interested parties have until 30 September 2011 to make their submissions.