Telstra (ASX: TLS) has lost its Federal Court case against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Vocus Communications (ASX: VOC) and iiNet (ASX: IIN) subsidiaries over an exchange and underground duct access pricing increase dispute.
Justice Flick rejected Telstra's argument that the ACCC had no jurisdiction to arbitrate the dispute and ordered Telstra to pay the costs of the respondents.
The exchange and underground duct access price increase was applied by Telstra under the terms of wholesale contracts with Vocus Fibre, Adam Internet and Chime Communications. However, the three parties appealed the price increase to the ACCC.
The ACCC determined that it had jurisdiction to act as arbitrator in the dispute. Telstra responded by lodging judicial review proceedings against the consumer watchdog and the ISPs in January last year.
A Telstra spokeswoman said it was a “disappointing outcome” and that the telco is now considering the decision and its implications.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that the watchdog organisation welcomed the clarification of its jurisdiction to arbitrate access disputes.
"The arbitration of these disputes will now proceed. As the arbitrations are conducted in private, the ACCC will not be making any further public comment," he said in a statement.
An iiNet spokesperson said the ISP will now cooperate with the ACCC in an attempt to end the long-running dispute over fair and reasonable access to the "incumbent’s legacy network."
Vocus Communications have been contacted for comment by Computerworld Australia Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick