The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has approved the nomination of Dr Rob Nicholls for the role of Independent Telecommunications Adjudicator (ITA), to oversee disputes between Telstra and its fixed-line wholesale customers.
As part of Telstra's structural separation undertaking (SSU), which separates Telstra's wholesale and retail arms for its copper access network, Telstra has established ITA Co to respond to complaints from access seekers before any intervention from the ACCC.
The adjudicator will be able to make binding rulings on the processes that Telstra has to follow when allowing access to its network.
The Telstra-appointed ITA Co board nominated Nicholls last week to be its first adjudicator. The ACCC said today that it has approved Nicholls' nomination after consulting with industry, saying that Telstra's wholesale customers have supported the appointment.
Nicholls has 30 years' worth of experience in the telecommunications sector, both in his role as general manager for communications at the ACCC and as a consultant for Gilbert and Tobin.
The appointment was the final regulatory approval required for the commencement of the ITA process, with the ACCC already having approved the ITA Limited Constitution and Charter of Independence, which will ensure that the adjudicator acts independently.
The independence of ITA Co has previously been questioned by the industry, given that Telstra appoints the board.
"Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but anybody that is set up and funded by Telstra is not likely to be very independent," Optus' head of regulatory affairs Andrew Sheridan said last year.