Deregulation hits harder

Australia's thriving telecommunications industry with 28 licensed carriers and numerous service providers is likely to drop back to only four full-service providers in the future, according to predictions in a Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu report.

Released yesterday at the Australian Telecommunications User Group (Atug) Now99 conference, the report surveyed telecommunications executives on issues affecting the industry two years on from deregulation.

According to Deloitte telecommunications partner, Peter McIver, the report suggested deregulation was having a "greater impact" on telco organisations now than immediately after deregulation.

"New products and services have become a greater focus and customer care has become imperative," McIver said.

" . . . For all the perceived delays and negatives, there has been increased and more vigorous competition in the telecommunications industry, the benefits of which are gradually filtering down to the end users."

Key findings in the report included:

59 per cent of respondents believe the long-term interests of end users are now being satisfied; 64 per cent of respondents felt the level of cooperation remains low or very low; key areas of conflict include interconnect tariffing, technical difficulties, number portability and efficiency of the customer transfer process;a clear majority believe free Internet access will be made available, and the number of Internet service providers expected to survive in the long-term has increased form 20 in 1998 to 35.

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