The government renewed retail price controls on Telstra fixed-line telephone services until June 2014.
Untimed local calls will continue to cost 22 cents and payphone calls will be capped at 50 cents for local calls. Telstra fixed-line customers will continue to get free calls to directory assistance. Also, low-income individuals will continue to pay $22.95 for a fixed-line service from Telstra.
The retail price controls mostly do not apply to the NBN. “This is because it provides a stronger platform for retail competition and a level playing field for fixed-line suppliers,” said the office of Stephen Conroy, minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
However, the government plans to maintain help on the NBN for those with low income, Conroy said.
"Telstra still dominates the market for fixed-line services on the existing copper network, so it's appropriate for the government to keep retail price controls in place for these services while that network is progressively decommissioned,” Conroy said. "The National Broadband Network will mean true competition in fixed line telephone services for the first time. This is the best way to ensure Australians get the best value phone services.
“The Government will, however, continue to have measures in place that protect consumers, particularly people on low incomes.”
Telstra said the price controls need not last forever. "As the industry migrates to the NBN the rationale for imposing retail price controls on the industry will become less persuasive," a Telstra spokeswoman said. "Given this, it’s important that the rationale for these price controls is reassessed as the rolls out proceeds."
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