ARN

ACCC extends declaration of Telstra's fixed line services

New agreement spans another five years

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has extended the declaration of six Telstra fixed line telecommunications services to 30 June 2024.

In August, the ACCC launched an enquiry to determine the need to keep regulating wholesale access to Telstra's copper network as consumers move to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Telstra's copper network is used by retail telecommunications service providers to provide voice and broadband service to Australian consumers.

After the enquiry, the ACCC found that continuing these six fixed line service declarations would help improve certainty for end users during the transition to the NBN, expected to be completed in 2020.  

“The NBN rollout is progressing but the fixed line network remains relevant to millions of consumers, before they migrate to the NBN, and in NBN fixed wireless and satellite areas where legacy network services will remain available,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

There are currently six declared services in operation – set  to expire on 31 July 2019 – being the unconditioned local loop service (ULLS), line sharing service (LSS), wholesale line rental (WLR), local carriage service (LCS) and fixed originating and terminating access services (FOAS and FTAS).

According to the ACCC, when a service is declared the network owner, in this case Telstra, must provide access to the service upon request and if a commercial agreement can't be reached the ACCC is in charge of determining regulated price and non-price terms. 

In its submission to the enquiry, Telstra said it was appropriate to continue to declare the services for a further five years as it expects "several significant developments over this period".

This includes the NBN rollout and migration will complete and the competitive landscape post-NBN rollout and migration will be clearer; the nature of any USO reforms and the extent of the legacy copper footprint will also be clearer; and there will be other significant developments across the telecommunications industry, including the introduction of 5G mobile services, which may strengthen even further the existing trend of fixed-to-mobile substitution for voice calls.

Nine submissions were received during the enquiry and all agreed that the extension of the declaration was the best outcome.

“Continuing regulation during the NBN build and migration period will ensure service providers that use Telstra’s copper network at reasonable terms and prices,” Sims said.

"This will encourage competition in the retail market and deliver greater choices for end-users in the form of better prices, service quality and service options."

ACCC will now launch a separate inquiry to consider and then determine access terms and pricing that would apply to the six fixed line and wholesale ADSL services.

These conditions will be set out in the Final Access Determination (FAD) expected to be published in June 2019.