ISPs demand intervention on Telstra ADSL2+ block

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.

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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, Telcos, Telstra, NBN

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10 comments
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  • 3 complaints, 3 responses, one individual's opinion

    1. untenably high wholesale transmission pricing

    It is common knowledge that the ACCC has the ability to regulate wholesale transmission rates in locations where there is under 3 competing carriers. If there is no choice then they should complain about the wholesale transmission rates set by the ACCC, if there is competition then they have a choice and can't blame Telstra.

    These companies are simply too afraid to invest money in genuine regional areas.

    2. "capped" exchanges

    How do you alleviate the issue of a building running out of space, lack of power in the street or insufficient power capacity / backup in the building?

    I agree that if Telstra has unfairly denied access to a few exchanges then they should be forced to open access to carriers that have requested access. This should only apply if Telstra is proven to have acted unfairly and only to the exchanges that have been applied for and denied for the specific company that has applied for access, once access is granted if the company does not end up connecting their own equipment (i.e. they were playing politics) Telstra should have the right to charge these companies the differential for the time they were using it and disconnect them / deny access.

    3. "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,"

    As with above, the ACCC has the ability to adjudicate in situations where Telstra is not providing access due to illegal or unreasonable practices. In relation to upgrading BigPond ADSL2+ in 48 hours, this does not require new hardware, this is a software upgrade or simply a change in configuration of existing software.

    Mr Hacket and the Group of 9 are simply trying to replicate the original G9, create a lot of media hype and turn public opinion against Telstra to better their own political (nee lack of investment) goals.
    anonymous
  • From Intonone's Website

    I LOVE THIS

    "Telstra has aggressively marketed ADSL2+ broadband as superior to ADSL1 technology. By excluding competitors from wholesale access to its ADSL2+ services, Telstra can lure customers of other ISPs into two or three-year contracts. This substantial lessening of competition will clearly have an adverse impact on consumers, both in terms of price and the range of services available to them in the long term."

    Telstra advertises "High Speed ADSL" because most of their exchanges are not ADSL2+ enabled, in contrast I see iiNet, TPG and many other filling news papers, letter boxes, billboards, buses, monorails and much more with the one thing ... ADSL2+.

    Looks like the pot calling the kettle black.
    anonymous
  • Another individual's response

    1. "It is common knowledge that the ACCC has the ability to regulate wholesale transmission rates in locations where there is under 3 competing carriers."
    "I agree that if Telstra has unfairly denied access to a few exchanges then they should be forced to open access to carriers that have requested access. This should only apply if Telstra is proven to have acted unfairly..."

    The request at this stage isn't to reprimand Telstra for the sheer sake of it, but simply to investigate them for perceived unfair, anticompetitive, and monopolistic conduct in an environment where it has an inherent advantage. The major problem here is that different organisations have been clamoring for a long time for the ACCC to look at Telstra for these same reasons (in different guises) for months (if not years), and the ACCC has thus far washed its hands of the issue (or at least given that impression to industry and the public). If it was to investigate and find that Telstra acted reasonably and fairly, although the industry wouldn't be exactly happy, at least they'd feel that the ACCC is doing its job.


    2. "How do you alleviate the issue of a building running out of space, lack of power in the street or insufficient power capacity / backup in the building?"

    Arguably this is a planning oversight on the part of Telstra; whether that case is to be made, nevertheless it should be up to Telstra, as the monopoly owner of Australia's copper, to make alternative arrangements where it cannot provide direct access to said copper for the purposes of competitors' broadband networks (such as wholesale access to its own broadband network). Of course, that's my personal opinion (although from the article seemingly the good Ms Sinclair also thinks so); ultimately this falls under the purview of the ACCC, again highlighting the need for the watchdog to take an unbiased look.


    3. "Mr Hacket and the Group of 9 are simply trying to replicate the original G9, create a lot of media hype and turn public opinion against Telstra to better their own political (nee lack of investment) goals."

    Speaking of unfair criticism. Just turn to the Telstra vs Helen Coonan battles last year for an example of Telstra doing exactly the same thing, with a far less valid point. Telcos all love their moment in the media spotlight; the issue here is that Telstra has been under fire by the industry for the same issue for a long time, and no-one feels that the ACCC is helping, so they're attempting to use media coverage to force their hand.
    anonymous
  • Telstra ADSL2+

    I have tried for some time to get ADSL2 at my home. When I called Bigpond I was told no problems sir we can deliver ADSL2 to your home.

    My current ISP TPG could not provide ADSL2 services because of issues with my line.

    So was Telstra withholding something from TPG? Who knows...

    I have a simple rule I will never Use Bigpond adsl2 in fact I cant wait for naked DSL in my area.
    anonymous
  • Ask for proof

    I went through the same issue with TPG some time ago, I asked for a copy of Telstra's reply saying they could not supply it to TPG but could supply it via BigPond so I could lodge a complaint to the TIO and ACCC. All of a sudden TPG's tone changed and they told me that as I lived outside of the main metropolitan area they did not service my area.
    anonymous
  • Competition... other ISP's stop complaining

    Any ISP can install their own ADSL2+ equipment in any exchange and hook their customers on to the existing copper network through spectrum sharing or ULL. Simple story is - they won't bother to do it because it costs real money. The likes of Internode only install their own equipment where it suits them to make money. Telstra is a business like any other company. If it doesn't want to share the exchange equipment then it shouldn't need to. If someone wants to try confusing customers into the belief that Telstra is stopping other ISP's from using the copper network, then they should rethink it, Telstra doesn't and can not stop another ISP getting spectrum sharing or a ULL service. Now if Telstra has run out of "ports" on their ADSL2 equipment, should they be able to purchase wholesale ports from IINET in the same exchange and resell them as Bigpond? It's the same theory this article seems to mention. Other providers - put your money where your mouth is and stop Telstra bashing (and using the ACCC to do it) which is all this really is. Take an example - my mum rang Optus and was told that quote "we are never installing ADSL in your exchange" leaving her to go elsewhere for an ADSL1 service!
    anonymous
  • Fairness

    On a level playing field, you're absolutely right. The problem is that this isn't a level playing field. Telstra has an inherent advantage, and with that advantage comes a responsibility, in no small part due to how that advantage was aquired (namely as a government-owned monopoly). So IINET wouldn't sell wholesale to Telstra, in no small part because Telstra owns the infrastructure in the first place, and so will never need to, and furthermore because it has the immediate resources to invest in new ports so as to amortize any cost.
    anonymous
  • Bigpond

    I also will never use Bigpond ADSL2+.They certainly know how to lock in vulnerable people with their expensive plans.I now,I use to be one of them when I started.
    eddietla
  • ADSL2+ Monopoly

    Bigpond has enabled a large number of ADSL2+ DSLAMs in regional areas. I was originally under the impression that their competitors were allowed to lease these DSLAM ports in order to onsell services. It appears that this is no longer the case for newly enabled DSLAMs.

    As such on the Newtown Exchange in Toowoomba, Bigpond is the ONLY ADSL2+ provider. We are in a large town, and the other exchanges are enabled for ADSL2+ by competitors. That leaves people like me either having to pay the exhorbitant Bigpond prices, or stick with ADSL1 until something changes in 6-12 months time.
    anonymous
  • Newtown

    Hi Anon,
    Do you know if this has changed yet - I see your post is 11 months old. I am on ADSL1 but its pretty slow @ 512.

    John.
    anonymous