Telstra could be forced to tweak its wholesale ADSL broadband pricing regime, or face fines running into the millions of dollars for anti-competitive behaviour.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Friday issued the telecommunications company with a Part A Competition Notice, after claiming that Telstra has 'engaged and is engaging, in at least one instance of anti-competitive conduct' in relation to wholesale pricing of high speed internet services.
The competition watchdog has been investigating the telco's retail and wholesale ADSL pricing since 16 February. 'The ACCC is aware that negotiations between Telstra and its wholesale customers have been underway since the ACCC issued a consultation notice to Telstra,” it stated.
'The issuing of the Competition Notice gives all parties the opportunity to determine a competitive wholesale rate structure by engaging in constructive negotiations. The ACCC expects these negotiations to take place as a matter of urgency. Telstra needs to reach an agreement as to this competitive wholesale rate structure quickly with its wholesale customers,' the ACCC said.
The issuing of the notice allows ISPs and carriers to take action and seek damages and compensation flor anti-competitive conduct while the notice is in force.
The ACCC can also seek 'pecuniary penalties' through the Federal Court for anti-competitive conduct. The maximum penalties for contraventions of the competition rule are $10 million for each contravention and $1 million for each day it continues, the ACCC said.
'Whether or not further action is appropriate will be guided by the results of the continuing investigation and the progress of negotiations between Telstra and wholesale access seekers,' the ACCC said.
The ACCC said it would be examining any new pricing offers from Telstra.
ACCC slaps Telstra over wholesale broadband pricing
By Staff Writers on Mar 19, 2004 12:00AM