Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) has announced that it has launched a review of retail price control arrangements for fixed-line telecommunications services. Presently, retail prices charged are regulated under the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 and only apply to fixed line incumbent Telstra. The existing pricing arrangements are due to expire on 30 June 2012, and currently apply to ‘baskets’ of fixed line services, such as monthly line rental and connection fees, while the terms of the regulation generally only allows price increases in line with consumer price index (CPI) movements. A discussion paper on the matter has been released and interested parties have been given until 18 November 2011 to make submissions.
Commenting on the development, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy noted: ‘Price controls are a key telecommunications consumer safeguard that aim to ensure that efficiency improvements are passed through to consumers in the form of lower prices for telecommunications services in markets where competition is not yet fully developed … They also protect the interests of low-income and regional users of telecommunications services. Following consultation on the issues raised in the discussion paper, the review’s findings will inform government consideration of the future of telecommunications retail pricing policy.’