ISPs demand intervention on Telstra ADSL2+ block

Summary:A group of nine ISPs sent a letter to the ACCC accusing the telco of stifling competition and urging the regulator to throw its full force behind an investigation.

A group of nine ISPs sent a letter to the ACCC accusing the telco of stifling competition and urging the regulator to throw its full force behind an investigation.

The consortium of ISPs has written to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graham Samuel asking him to issue a competition notice under the Trade Practices Act against the national carrier over its refusal to provide access to its newly-activated ADSL2+ network.

"This is a serious problem, both for the broadband sector and for Australian consumers and businesses," said Simon Hackett, managing director of Internode -- the provider spearheading the complaint -- in a statement.

"We believe that Telstra's decision not to offer wholesale access to ADSL2+ services will lead to a substantial lessening of competition," Hackett continued.

In a nine page letter to the regulator, the ISPs -- which include iiNet, Westnet and TCN Communications -- have outlined a schedule of impediments to competition "that arise from Telstra's monopoly control of the copper telephone line network".

The letter details three main complaints which they have requested the ACCC investigate include: untenably high wholesale transmission pricing, the increasing prevalence of "capped" exchanges -- which the telco claims have no more room to accommodate its competitors broadband equipment -- and excessive delays to approve access to install DSLAM in its exchanges.

"It can take as long as two years for a competitor to access or upgrade ADSL2+ services in an exchange, whereas Telstra BigPond can upgrade its own ADSL2+ services in as little as 48 hours," Hackett added.

If there's really no room at the inn, we're going to have to look at a resale model where we all share the manger

Rosemary Sinclair, ATUG

The letter calls for the regulator to threaten Telstra with penalties as high as AU$10 million per offence if it has reason to believe the telco is engaging in anti-competitive conduct.

"The core issue that all of this has raised for us is the effectiveness of the competition framework in the Australian broadband market," said Rosemary Sinclair, managing director of the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG).

"It's of great concern to us that the incumbent Telstra seems to be the only one happy in this particular space," she said.

Sinclair told ZDNet.com.au today that she believes the federal government should step into the frame and consider establishing an independent body similar to the UK's Ofcom.

"If there's really no room at the inn when it comes to Telstra's exchanges, we're going to have to look at a resale model where we all share the manger," said Sinclair.

An ACCC spokesperson said that the regulator would not comment on "access disputes".

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

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