Telstra cops complaints from four rival telcos

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Telstra cops complaints from four rival telcos

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received notification of five telecommunications access disputes under Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

These disputes relate to Telstra's supply of the Line Sharing Service (LSS), Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) and Local Carriage Service (LCS) respectively.

The following parties have each separately notified the ACCC of a LSS access dispute with Telstra; EFTel Limited notified on 18 December 2007; Wideband Networks Pty Ltd notified on 9 January 2008, and; Primus Telecommunications Pty Ltd notified on 17 January 2008. Digiplus Pty Ltd notified the ACCC of a telecommunications access dispute on 20 December 2007 concerning the price at which Telstra supplies it with WLR services.

Telstra notified the ACCC of an access dispute with Digiplus on 24 January 2008 concerning its supply of LCS to Digiplus – and specifically the untimed local call for the supply of the LCS.

The ACCC has commenced the arbitration processes for these access disputes. Given that the arbitrations be conducted in private, the ACCC will not be making any public comment at this stage.

Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said complaints between telecommunication providers are common all over the world however other countries have regulatory bodies with more power to act in these disputes.

“The incumbent (Telstra) doesn’t care about winning the case, it will do whatever it can to delay the process and frustrate everyone involved,” he said.

Budde believes Telstra is able to manipulate the complaints process easily because smaller telco providers cannot afford the delay.

“It’s great for Telstra because it takes resources away from smaller companies and allows the incumbent to frustrate the process. Essentially Telstra’s whole aim is to create havoc in the market,” he said.

According to Budde the federal government is unable to do anything about this, because Telstra makes them jump through hoops.

“[Australia] has been stuck with this [situation] since 1997 and there have been hundreds of disputes, with Telstra continually dodging them and causing continuous frustration,” he said.

The government has to be able to move the telecommunication industry forward, especially with the need for technology like fibre networks and applications, said Budde.

“We cannot be stuck in the old system, it make us a laggard compared with the rest of the world. The previous government didn’t want to change anything because it was driving Telstra into privatisation and wanted it in the best condition,” Budde said. “With little regulation looming over Telstra, the previous government was able to sell it for a much higher price. The new government is not bound to Telstra and has more opportunity to make changes.”

Budde believes the changes need to be made sooner rather than later, although this can take some time.

“I believe the current government might start setting things in motion before the end of the year,” he said.
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