Telstra argues no need for increased copper network regulation

12 Sep 2013

Just over a week after Australia’s alternative operators were reported to have argued that the slow rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) meant that regulation of Telstra’s copper network should remain in place, the fixed line incumbent has itself weighed in on the matter. As reported by the Australian Financial Review, in its submission to the review of fixed line services being carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Telstra has rejected calls for an increase in the level of regulation related to its copper network. Claiming that its customers currently enjoy ‘lower prices, greater choice and greater competition’, it noted: ‘The current market outcomes with respect to fixed line services supplied over the [copper network] … indicate that substantive changes to the declarations (or the addition of new declared services) are not warranted at this time and would not be in the long-term interest of end-users.’

Meanwhile, with Optus and consumer advocate group the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) having suggested that Telstra should be required to provide access to an increased amount of space in its exchanges, Telstra has refuted such plans, arguing that the ACCC lacks the legal powers to declare access terms and prices for its facilities except in very specific circumstances. While it did acknowledge that ‘in the past, access seekers have faced difficulties in accessing some of its exchange buildings’, the telco said that such issues had been resolved, and claimed that there had been minimal complaints regarding the existing system under which alternative providers negotiate commercial contracts for space in exchanges.

Despite such differences, Telstra did have some common ground with its rivals, with it echoing the standpoints of Optus and iiNet, which in their respective submissions said that the regulation of the copper network should continue until the rollout of the NBN is completed. ‘The longstanding declarations of legacy PSTN-based services remain appropriate and well-targeted at this time of industry transition [and] continuation of the existing declarations will promote stability and certainty for the industry,’ Telstra said in its submission.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in July 2013 the ACCC 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).