ACCC Inquiry into Telco Regulation Begins

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From the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) media release (31/05/2023):

The ACCC has today commenced a combined public inquiry into whether nine wholesale telecommunications services that support the provision of broadband, voice and data transmission services should continue to be regulated.

Access to telecommunications services in Australia is usually unregulated unless the services are ‘declared’. Once a service is declared, the supplier of that service must allow other providers to access it upon request. The ACCC can also set price and non-price terms and conditions of access to declared services, including a maximum price.

The nine services that this inquiry will examine are subject to current declarations that will expire in 2024. Broadly, these services enable access to Telstra’s legacy access network, interconnection of networks for the purpose of voice calls, the resale of analogue fixed line phone services, data transmission, and ADSL resale.

The services that are the subject of this inquiry do not include services regulated under NBN’s Special Access Undertaking or Superfast Broadband Access Services on high-speed networks other than the NBN.

“Our inquiry will consider whether ongoing regulation of these declared services promotes the long-term interests of Australians. We want to know if recent developments including investments in optical fibre, the completion of the NBN and declining usage of Telstra’s copper network mean that competition is protecting customers and what that means about whether or how we should regulate these services,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

“We will also look at the impact of newer technologies such as instant messaging and video conferencing apps on relevant telecommunications services, and what it means for regulation,” Ms Brakey said.

At the end of this inquiry, the ACCC will determine whether the declaration for each service should be extended, varied, revoked, allowed to expire, or whether a new declaration should be made.

The ACCC has published a discussion paper and is seeking submissions from interested parties by 5pm Wednesday 12 July 2023.

For more information you can visit the ACCC page here.