Telstra loses case against Vocus over price hikes

Telstra has lost its case against the ACCC, Vocus Communications, and iiNet subsidiaries over disputes regarding price increases to access its telephone exchanges and underground ducts.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), together with a number of internet providers, has claimed victory against Telstra.

The case was initially brought forward to the ACCC by Vocus Communications and several iiNet subsidiaries, Adam Internet and Chime Communications, for arbitration proceedings when Telstra decided it was going to increase the prices it charged to access its underground ducts and telephone exchanges. The disputes were notified to the ACCC under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

However, after the ACCC established that it did not have not have any jurisdiction over the matter to act as an arbitrator, Telstra lodged the dispute for judicial review proceedings with the Federal Court.

But the Federal Court was quick to dismiss Telstra's claims at a judgment hearing on Wednesday.

"It's concluded that Telstra is to be rejected," Justice Flick said. "Telstra is to pay costs of the respondents."

A Telstra spokesperson has referred to the outcome as "disappointing", and said the company will consider "the decision and its implications" before deciding whether any further steps will be taken.

The outcome also verified for the ACCC that there was a dispute, which could be arbitrated by the ACCC.

"The ACCC welcomes this clarification of its jurisdiction to arbitrate access disputes notified to it," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The arbitration of these disputes will now proceed in private.