ACCC to continue regulating Telstra copper as NBN rollout completes

Telstra's ULLS, LSS, WLR, LCS, FOAS, and FTAS fixed-line services will continue being regulated for the next five years to ensure certainty during the end of the NBN rollout.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced its decision to continue regulating six Telstra fixed-line copper services from mid-2019 while the National Broadband Network (NBN) deployment is being completed.

Specifically, the ACCC has declared until June 30, 2024, Telstra's unconditioned local loop service (ULLS), line sharing service (LSS), wholesale line rental (WLR), local carriage service (LCS), fixed originating access service (FOAS, formerly PSTN OA), and fixed terminating access service (FTAS, formerly PSTN TA) under s152AL of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

"The NBN rollout is progressing, but the fixed-line network remains relevant to millions of consumers before they migrate to the NBN, and in NBN fixed-wireless and satellite areas where legacy network services will remain available," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said on Monday.

"Continuing regulation during the NBN build and migration period will ensure service providers use Telstra's copper network at reasonable terms and prices. This will encourage competition in the retail market and deliver greater choices for end users in the form of better prices, service quality, and service options."

According to the ACCC, all nine submissions to the inquiry -- which included NBN, Telstra, Optus, Vocus, Macquarie Telecom, Commpete, Finder, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), and a member of the public -- argued in favour of the declaration for the next five years.

"Telstra submitted that during the remaining NBN rollout and migration period, the LTIE [long-term interests of end users] are best serviced by extending the declaration of the six fixed-line services for five years," the ACCC's Fixed line telecommunications services declaration inquiry: Final decision [PDF] said.

The final decision added that Macquarie Telecom, ACCAN, and NBN submitted that the declaration would ensure stability and certainty, especially, as pointed out by ACCAN, in the case of delays with the NBN rollout.

"Optus, Vocus, Finder, and Commpete agreed with the ACCC that it is in the LTIE to continue declaration of the fixed-line services for a further five-year period given the continued relevance of Telstra's copper network to millions of end users and uncertainty in the future competitive and policy landscape," the ACCC said.

With the decision to declare the six fixed-line services, the ACCC will next kick off a separate inquiry into pricing and access terms, which will be set out in a Final Access Determination (FAD) due in June 2019.

The ACCC had launched the consultation at the end of August, pointing also to the pause in NBN's hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) rollout as having increased the relevance of Telstra's copper networks for the short term, due to a delayed migration.

The regulator is also currently reconsidering its regulation of backhaul, as well as its domestic mobile terminating access service (MTAS) declaration.

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