The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has won a case in the Federal Court against Telstra (ASX:TLS) for denying competitors access to infrastructure. The telco is set to be fined $18.55 million.
The Government agency had wanted a $40m fine placed on Telstra, while the telco admitted contravening some laws and requested a $3-5m fine instead. Justice Middleton eventually penalised it $26.5m, but provided a 30 per cent discount for cooperation.
The ACCC alleged Telstra had refused telephone exchange access to rival telco providers in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane for the connection of their broadband equipment.
According to a statement released by the ACCC, Justice Middleton said Telstra showed “no true remorse” for its actions and did not have an “appreciation of the seriousness of the admitted contravention"
“Telstra took no steps to develop a culture of compliance [from 2006-2008] with its obligations under the Trade Practices Act and the Telecommunications Act,” Justice Middleton said.
Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, Telstra was obligated to provide access to its facilities to rivals.
ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said the government agency welcomed the large fine.
“The conduct occurred during a critical time of DSL based broadband growth,” he said. “Telstra had both the incentive, and the ability, to prevent access seekers from deploying their own equipment.”
Both the Coalition and the Government have pledged to improve and change access regimes to boost competitiveness.
ARN contacted Telstra, but did not get a response by time of publication.