Telstra appeals ruling in exchange fees fight

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Telstra appeals ruling in exchange fees fight

First hearing in three weeks.

Telstra has lodged a formal appeal in the Federal Court against its decision to dismiss the telco's challenge to the jurisdiction of the national consumer watchdog over a pricing dispute.

Telstra has been engaged in an ongoing battle with several of its internet service provider partners over plans to raise fees for access to its exchanges and underground ducts.

Vocus Fibre, Adam Internet and Chime Communications approached the ACCC about the increase in late 2012, but Telstra took issue with the consumer watchdog intervening in the matter and took the group to the Federal Court, arguing the ACCC had no jurisdiction in the dispute.

The Federal Court knocked back Telstra’s challenge in mid March, with Telstra ordered to pay the costs of the ISPs. 

Pricing dispute talks were expected to go ahead in private.

But Telstra last week filed an appeal in the Federal Court against the decision.

A preliminary hearing will occur on the 30th April, with directions held this afternoon.

Telstra said it disagreed with the Federal Court's initial decision and was "seeking clarification on some important points relating to our contractual relationship with these customers".

"We have acted in accordance with our contract and as such we believe there are no grounds for the dispute," a spokesperson said.

The issue stems from Telstra’s decision in 2012 to apply a price increase to its wholesale contracts with the ISPs, which it said was based on the consumer price index.

However, the ISPs took issue with the price increase and brought in the ACCC to act as arbitrator in the dispute.

A Telstra spokesperson said last month there would be nothing for the ACCC to arbitrate given it believed the changes in the contracts were binding, which it hoped to prove with the court proceedings.

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