Telstra competitors might get DSLAM break

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Telstra competitors might get DSLAM break

The ACCC has come up with a proposal which will require Telstra to keep better records on its exchange facilities, potentially paving the way to an expansion of DSLAM networks for Telstra’s competitors.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published a draft record-keeping rule it proposes to issue requiring Telstra to keep records and give reports to the ACCC relating to access on Telstra’s exchange facilities.

In an interview with CRN David Kennedy research director for Telecoms Asia Pacific said, the ACCC was making this proposal because competitors were concerned about the number of exchanges Telstra had declared capped and had no room for further Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM) installations.

“This limits competitors' ability to expand their existing DSLAM networks. The ACCC wants more transparency in Telstra's decision-making to ensure that it is not acting anti-competitively,” he said.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said the ACCC had received a large number of complaints from access seekers regarding difficulties in accessing exchanges to install equipment to provide ADSL2+ services to consumers.

"Complaints relate to the delays caused by Telstra’s queuing system to access exchanges and to Telstra’s processes for 'capping' exchanges. Multiple access seekers face long delays to install equipment at an exchange,” he said.

According to Samuel, the ACCC considers Telstra’s processes for 'capping' an exchange have not been sufficiently accurate or robust, particularly given that visual inspections of exchanges were not always undertaken by Telstra to assess the space available.

"The ACCC believes that there remains a clear need for independent oversight to provide confidence to access seekers investing in competitive DSLAM infrastructure that decisions on 'capping' are made on the basis of robust information and to identify the exact cause of delays,” he said.

The ACCC believes there is a need to impose discipline on those access seekers at the front of the queue as well as Telstra to ensure there are no unreasonable delays. Importantly, the proposed record keeping rule should also ensure that access seekers are not unreasonably denied access to Telstra exchanges by increasing the accountability of Telstra’s decision making processes, stated Samuel.

"Under the proposed record keeping rule, Telstra is required to give monthly reports to the ACCC regarding queued exchanges and decisions by Telstra to 'cap' exchanges on the basis of insufficient space," he said.

Kennedy said for Telstra, this will mean - apart from having extra work required to maintain records - it could possibly result in intervention by the ACCC to allow the installation of additional competitor DSLAMS in some exchanges.

“Whether this will actually happen depends on what the records show. However if the process uncovers unused capacity in exchanges, it will make it easier for Telstra's competitors to expand their customer base in these exchange areas,” he said.

According to Kennedy, since the capped exchanges tend to be in higher density areas, this could result in significant additional revenue for Telstra's competitors, and a tougher competitive environment for Telstra to operate in.

In addition to consulting with Telstra, the ACCC seeks the views of interested parties in relation to the proposed record keeping rule, with submissions due by Thursday 5 June 2008.
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