With the Bill for the separation of Telstra slated for debate in the Senate on Thursday, eight telecommunications providers have shelled out for a full-page advertisement asking senators to pass the new law.
Funded by iiNet, Internode, Macquarie Telecom, Netspace, Optus, Primus, TransACT and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, the advertisement in today's Australian Financial Review (AFR) asked senators "who do you represent?"
According to the AFR's rate card, a full-page advertisement can cost thousands of dollars.
The ISPs' ad in the AFR
The Bill will enable the government to impose functional separation coupled with tough sanctions including a ban on acquiring spectrum for 4G wireless services on the telco if it did not voluntarily opt for structural separation.
The advertisement reads:
This week, legislation to reform telecommunications consume protection and competition rules is expected to come back into the Senate.
Senators should ask themselves;
- Do I believe ALL Australians are entitled to a choice of service provider?
Do I believe that all service providers should compete on fair terms? Do I believe the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] should be able to oversee prices and the treatment of consumers and competitors AND have the power to fix problems it finds? Do I believe Telstra should be able to secretly negotiate rules for the future National Broadband Network, or should consumers, taxpayers and other businesses have a right to their say?
This might be the last chance for Australia to fix the telecommunications mess. Every senator should ask themselves who they are going to put first when they cast their vote.
The advertisement was the second move by ISPs to appeal to senators prior to voting on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009.
The Australian Financial Review yesterday reported that seven of the ISPs (excluding Optus) sent a letter to senators, signed by each of the companies' chief executives, which claimed the "failure of the legislation would be detrimental to the needs of all Australians".
The Bill may not be passed quickly, as it is the last in a long list to be heard, and may be pushed back until the Senate reconvenes on 9 March 2010.