Starts Antitrust Case Against Telstra
By Lydal McFarland
The Wall Street Journal
Monday, April 20, 2009
regulators started legal proceedings against Telstra Corp. for
allegedly refusing rivals access to key parts of its network.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the
telecommunications company didn't allow rivals wanting to
provide voice and broadband services access to its equipment.
Telstra indicated it will defend the action and, in the latest
development in a long-running feud with the regulator, accused
the ACCC of attempting to force more regulations on the group.
The news comes amid continued uncertainty about the outcome of
the government's national broadband network bidding process,
which is likely to see one of Telstra's rivals given the green
light to build a multibillion dollar high-speed fiber network
across the nation after Telstra was excluded from the process
last year. The outcome the auction is likely to be
announced by next month.
The watchdog says Telstra refused access at seven of its key
metropolitan exchanges after it said they were "capped," and
that there was no capacity on main distribution frames for
rivals to interconnect their equipment to Telstra's main copper
network, which connects to homes.
The ACCC alleged that Telstra has breached the Trades Practices
Act and the Telecommunications Act by declining access at the
seven exchanges, and is seeking declarations, unspecified
financial penalties and injunctions against the group.
Telstra blasted the move as "a transparent attempt to pave the
way for further legislative shackles on Telstra."
"The ACCC is suing us for something we proactively and
voluntarily reviewed and fixed a year ago," David Quilty,
Telstra's communications head, said.
David Foreman, executive director of the Competitive Carriers'
Coalition, a group of eight of Telstra's smaller rivals,
welcomed the ACCC move to take Telstra to court.
"In some cases, Telstra has kept competitors out of exchanges
for years, which has stopped consumers from being given the
choice of competitive prices and services," Mr. Foreman said.
The matter has been set for a directions hearing in federal
court in Melbourne April 17, the
Telstra is also on the hunt for a new chief executive, after
current CEO Solomon Trujillo announced his plans to step down by
the end of June.
— David Rogers contributed to this article. Write to
Lyndal McFarland at