ACCC faces mounting pressure over Telstra’s SSU

17 Jan 2012

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reportedly come under further pressure to reject the most recent version of the Structural Separation Undertaking (SSU) put forward by fixed line incumbent Telstra. According to The Australian, submissions lodged by a number of the Telstra’s rivals have claimed that the plan is fundamentally flawed, with operators including Optus, AAPT, iiNet and Internode all weighing in on the matter as the ACCC considers its next step. In its submission to the regulator, AAPT noted: ‘The revised SSU still suffers from fundamental flaws, which, unless adequately addressed by Telstra, means that the ACCC cannot be satisfied that the revised SSU provides for transparency and equivalence between Telstra’s wholesale customers and Telstra’s retail business unit in an appropriate and effective manner … The ACCC must therefore reject the revised SSU.’ A joint submission from iiNet, Internode, TransACT and Adam Internet meanwhile saw the aforementioned operators warn that limitations on the regulator’s ability to intervene in access disputes rendered the SSU ‘inappropriately weak’, while they also argue that the undertaking could pose wider problems for the country’s telecoms sectors if it is accepted without amendments being made that would enforce equivalence obligations on Telstra.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in November 2011 Telstra handed a revised draft of its SSU to the ACCC, with the telco submitting the updated document following concerns raised by both the regulator and alternative operators over the original draft; the incumbent’s rivals had argued that its plans did not go far enough in giving them equal access to its network. At that date the ACCC called on Telstra to provide an ‘overarching commitment’ to give rivals equivalent access to its monopoly fixed line network during the ten-year transition to the National Broadband Network (NBN).