ACCC to Telstra: Don't sabotage DSLAM rollouts

ACCC to Telstra: Don't sabotage DSLAM rollouts

Summary: Telstra has been warned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) not to sabotage attempts by rival Internet service providers to roll-out their own hardware in Telstra exchanges. Speaking at the annual Australian Telecommunications Users Group conference, ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said: "It is imperative ...

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Telstra has been warned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) not to sabotage attempts by rival Internet service providers to roll-out their own hardware in Telstra exchanges.

Speaking at the annual Australian Telecommunications Users Group conference, ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said: "It is imperative ... that Telstra's competitors have timely and efficient access to exchanges in order to enable them to roll-out service to the mass market." He added that "Telstra has been slow to improve processes to enable large-scale roll-outs and has not demonstrated a real commitment to changing its systems to meet these needs."

Making the ACCC's position clear, Samuel said: "I can assure you the Commission will not look lightly on any attempts by Telstra to impede or hinder competition, for example by slowing the roll-out of DSLAMs [Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers], and is prepared to deal accordingly with any such behaviour. We are now actively considering a number of options available under the Trade Practices Act and our other powers to expedite industry outcomes."

The ACCC announced its plans to make variations to its '2003 Model Core Services Terms and Conditions Determination' for the unbundled local loop services (ULLS) and said it would apply the Determination to line sharing services (LLS) where appropriate. This would, according to Samuel, set out the ACCC's position on a number of specific issues and send "a clear signal to Telstra".

Speaking more broadly about the recent wave of DSLAM rollouts by various carriers, Samuel said that "Increased infrastructure roll-out would allow competitors to provide a much higher quality, and more diverse range of broadband and other services than is possible by simply reselling the Telstra wholesale ADSL service. There is clear potential, for example, for full video services to be provided over DSL technologies."

Samuel reiterated the comments of what he said were a number of commentators, who have "pointed out the potential for an incumbent to engage in non-price discrimination or 'sabotage' to kill off this competition before it even gets a foothold by, for example, raising the cost of accessing essential inputs."

And now is the time for the ACCC to be vigilant: "The potential for sabotage is especially pertinent in light of recent concerns raised by competitors contemplating the mass roll-out of unbundled local loop services (ULLS) and line sharing services (LSS)," said Samuel.

According to the chairman, the industry has already been talking to the ACCC about problems. Samuel told the audience that "some of the complaints raised directly with the Commission include the prospect of significant delays and associated costs in gaining access to Telstra exchanges. The Commission notes that the current ULLS provisioning processes are ill-suited to addressing these concerns within the context of a rapid mass-market DSLAM deployment."

With respect to Telstra's position on the threat that alternative exchange hardware may pose to its existing business model, Samuel referred to comments from Telstra chief executive officer Ziggy Switkowski that were published in February 2005 in the Financial Review.

"The CEO noted," said Samuel, "that Telstra had developed 'mitigating strategies' to address the increasing prospect that competitors will seek to roll-out their own DSL networks. This reference to 'mitigating strategies' could potentially be interpreted in a sinister fashion."

"However Dr Switkowski has assured me that what Telstra had in mind was the launch of more attractive products for its wholesale customers. It remains to be seen which interpretation is ultimately proven to be the correct one," he finished.

The ACCC this week released two discussion papers regarding the revised Telstra ULLS and LSS undertakings.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Government, Government AU, Microsoft, Telstra

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  • Telstra

    Telstra lie to and bully the elderly and confused. I have a friend who is 60ish; he wanted to setup Broadband at his home, after considering all the connection plans available, he chose an Internode plan based on the cost and the quality and freedom to change your plans that they offer. He rang Internode and tried to connect, but Internode were told by Telstra he was not in an enabled area. He told me this and I told him of other people who had recently connected in his neighourhood. He was slightly lost as to what to do next so he rang Telstra to confirm whether or not it was possible to connect in his area. They said they would have to check up and would get back to him; 2 weeks later he received a bill for the connection of his Telstra Broadband, which he had not requested. He again tried to communicate with Telstra and they told him he was already hooked up by them and he would have to pay them now, even if he still wanted to use the more economical Internode plan.
    He wont rock the boat or stand up for himself in this matter which encourages these people to continue to treat the citizens of our country in such a dishonest manner.

    I will never support anyone who acts like this towards the weak and innocent, and neither will I have any compassion or respect for people who profit from and support this behaviour.
    anonymous
  • Yeeeeee-hoooo! Telstra, you go on down to Hell and stay there!
    BlueyAHQ