ACCC begins examination of fixed line services

15 Jul 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched declaration inquiries for the Domestic Transmission Capacity Service (DTCS), as well as six other fixed line services, those being: unconditioned local loop services (ULLS), line sharing services (LSS), public switched telephone network originating and termination access (PSTN OA and PSTN TA), local carriage services (LCS) and wholesale line rental (WLR).

With specific regards to DTCS, often referred to as backhaul, in announcing the start of the review the regulator noted that the existing declaration covers most transmission routes in Australia, other than where the ACCC has found effective competition between transmission providers. As such, the ACCC has said it aims to determine whether backhaul services should continue to be regulated, noting that it decides it should, a separate inquiry will be launched in early 2014 into the prices and other terms and conditions that should apply to the service. A number of issues relevant to the contemporary transmission market will be considered, the ACCC has said, with these including: the appropriate scope of DTCS regulation, including whether routes that are currently regulated should continue to be regulated or not and whether routes that are not regulated require regulation; the adequacy of the existing DTCS service description; and the impact of the National Broadband Network (NBN), if any, on the DTCS market.

Meanwhile, having published a discussion paper to kick-start the review of the other fixed line services, the ACCC has said it is seeking comments on issues including: whether continued declaration of the fixed line services would be in the long term interests of end users; whether the existing service descriptions for these services are appropriate; whether recent developments in the industry indicate that new or different resale services should be declared; and whether the ACCC should regulate resale services over the NBN. A submission deadline for this inquiry has been set as 23 August 2013.

Commenting on the development, ACCC commissioner Joe Dimasi was cited as saying: ‘Since the last time we declared these services in 2009, there have been important changes in the Australian telecommunications industry … The reviews will assist the ACCC in determining whether the DTCS and the fixed line services should remain regulated to ensure the long-term interests of end-users are met.’