A consultation has been launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) related to the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Act 2020 (the ‘TLA Act’), which received Royal Assent on 25 May 2020. In a statement, the ACCC noted that among other provisions, the new legislation amends the Telecommunications Act 1997 to enable superfast fixed line broadband networks serving residential customers to operate on a functionally separated basis, rather than a structurally separated basis. Specifically, the TLA Act inserts a process in to the 1997 law under which network operators will be able to voluntarily submit functional separation undertakings to the regulator for approval, with the intention that this will provide greater commercial flexibility for superfast network operators and promote infrastructure-based competition. In addition, the ACCC is empowered to determine a standard functional separation undertaking – known as a ‘deemed’ undertaking – that an eligible corporation can choose to be bound by, instead of submitting its own customised voluntary undertaking.
With the new laws scheduled to come into effect on 26 August 2020, the ACCC is now seeking views from stakeholders on: a draft instrument for the exemption for small networks, including the class of persons to whom it should apply and any other conditions and limitations; the nature and extent of potential functional separation provisions for deemed undertakings; and the classes of corporations to which deemed undertakings should apply. A deadline of 17 July 2020 has been set for submissions.