GAP calls for reform of telecoms access regime

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GAP calls for reform of telecoms access regime

Urgent reform of the current telecommunications access regime is needed to generate the investments required to give Australia state-of-the-art, world-leading telecommunications, the Global Access Partners (GAP) Congress on Regulatory Affairs heard today.

David Quilty, Telstra’s Group Managing Director for Public Policy and Communication, addressed the Congress today and released a GAP Taskforce report on Directions for reform of Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act.

Quilty said that the existing regime, first introduced in 1997, had failed to keep pace with the fast-changing technological evolution of the industry and was subsequently holding back the investment needed to provide Australia with a national high-speed broadband future.

“Australia has reached a tipping point on broadband,” Mr Quilty said. “While Telstra remains committed to the abolition of Parts XIB and XIC of the Trade Practices Act (TPA) in preference for the generic competition regime, the Taskforce report recognises a phased approach is realistic and as such has argued for changes to Part XIC to make it more efficient and investment focused.

“The objective of the Taskforce was how to reform this regime in a way that will encourage investment and provide certainty for all involved, while at the same time ensuring that there continues to be fair and open access to true bottlenecks and a safety net to prevent and clamp-down on anti-competitive behaviour,” Quilty said.

The report said that the Taskforce had identified a number of urgently required reforms to provide benefits to access providers and seekers, and concluded:

“Part XIC has clearly not delivered the necessary fixed network investment required for a world-class telecommunications infrastructure. By failing to achieve the right balance between ‘builders’ and ‘buyers’ at such a critical time, Part XIC has left Australia playing a dangerous game of ‘catch-up’.

“If Part XIC is not reformed, then the inevitable result will be sub-standard services for consumers and small businesses in the very area that is central to the nation’s future productivity and competitiveness.”

Quilty said that the reforms set out in the report would lead to a regime that is less intrusive, more predictable, more efficient, more accountable and, most importantly of all, more attuned to the imperative of efficient investment in telecoms infrastructure.

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