A draft decision regarding the prices that alternative operators pay fixed line incumbent Telstra to utilise its copper network has been published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
With the National Broadband Network (NBN) set to replace Telstra’s legacy copper network as the infrastructure over which Australians receive fixed line voice and broadband services, the regulator noted that this structural change ‘has significant implications for how Telstra’s fixed line assets are used during the transition and for the issues that the ACCC has dealt with during its inquiry to date’.
As per the draft decision – which covers the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2019 – the ACCC has proposed a one-off uniform cut in access prices of 0.7% for all seven access services, those being: unconditioned local loop service, line sharing service, wholesale line rental, local carriage service, fixed originating access service, fixed terminating access service and wholesale asymmetric digital subscriber line. By comparison, Telstra had itself sought permission to increase prices by 7.2% back in October 2014. Commenting on the plans, ACCC chairman Rod Sims was cited as saying: ‘The draft decision on prices ensures nominal price stability in the wholesale market for telecommunications services and will promote competition in the transition to the NBN … Given current inflation however, this uniform price fall means the prices access seekers pay will decline in real terms over the next four years by around 12%.’
ACCC has invited all interested parties to submit their comments by 30 April 2015, following which it expects to release a final decision at the end of June 2015. Meanwhile, draft decisions on connection charges and the non-price terms and conditions are to be released later this month.