Telstra has nominated former ACCC general manager Dr Rob Nicholls as the inaugural 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 will separate Telstra's wholesale and retail arms for its copper access network, Telstra has established the ITA to respond to complaints from access seekers before any intervention from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The independence of the ITA, now known as ITA Co, has been questioned by the industry, given that Telstra appoints the board of the adjudicator.
Now up and running, the Telstra-appointed ITA Co board last week nominated Nicholls to be the first adjudicator. In a letter (PDF) posted on the ACCC's website, ITA Co chairman Mark Hall said that Nicholls' 30 years' worth of experience in the telecommunications sector, both in his role as general manager for communications in the ACCC and as a consultant for Gilbert and Tobin, gave him the skills required for the new role.
"Nicholls has a deep understanding of the telecommunications industry, and is well known to many of its stakeholders," Hall said. "We believe Mr Nicholls is a strong candidate for the ITA adjudicator role, and will provide the industry with confidence that the role of ITA adjudicator will be performed with independence and integrity."
The ACCC will need to approve the nomination before Nicholls can take on the role. Earlier this month, ITA Co also nominated Norton Rose as its probity advisor (PDF), which the ACCC will also need to approve.