"The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Telstra have recently been discussing a possible investment by Telstra in a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) network," a statement by the ACCC to the Australian Stock Exchange late this afternoon said.
"The discussions have been constructive," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in the statement, "however, no decisions have been made, nor any agreement reached."
Telstra put its plans to build a FTTN network on hold in December, believing government regulations would force it to open access to the new infrastructure to rivals as it currently has to do with its copper equivalent. According to the ACCC today, the carrier has explained to it its need for regulatory certainty as to access arrangements before making an investment decision.
"[Telstra] also wishes to ensure that it can recover the costs of investment in new infrastructure before it proceeds with any investment," the ACCC said.
"In turn, the ACCC has signalled its longstanding view that regulatory arrangements should provide incentives in the long term for both facilities-based competition and competition in downstream services".
The FTTN network would, the carrier claimed, deliver speeds of 12Mbps to around four million businesses and homes.
The ACCC noted the ongoing talks between the regulator and Telstra "should put Telstra in a position to develop a comprehensive undertaking, which can be submitted to full public consultation."
"It is anticipated that public consultation on a proposal will be sought as early as May 2006," the statement continued.
The ACCC noted such public consultation would allow it to take into account industry and public views on Telstra's planned network, including "whether and how" Telstra should have to allow rivals access to the network as it currently does its copper infrastructure.