US accuses Telstra of anticompetitive conduct

Telstra has "utterly" rejected allegations from the US that the telecommunications company engages in anticompetitive conduct.

The US Trade Representative's (USTR) annual report on foreign trade barriers raised serious concerns about what it called Telstra's seeming inability to restrain conduct labelled "anticompetitive".

US trade representative Bob Zoellick said the conduct included delays in access to Telstra's network and the inflated prices of its wholesale services, both of which limited the ability of US carriers to compete effectively.

Zoelick pushed for privatisation, urging Australia to fully divest its share of the 50.1 per cent government-owned company.

Effectively, the report is a first draft of probable US demands in upcoming negotiations for a free trade agreement with Australia.

However, a Telstra spokesperson slammed Zoelick's comments as "factually wrong and dated".

"Australia's regulatory environment, supported by Telstra, is strongly procompetitive. Australia's wholesale market is more competitive than that of the US," he said.

The spokesperson indicated Telstra is providing every form of access that is technologically known and has never denied access to any access-seeker. Further, on the allegation of inflated wholesale prices, the spokesperson pointed out the USTR cannot know wholesale prices as they are confidentially agreed between parties.

"The US should heed our Productivity Commission, which recently warned that overseas comparisons fail to take into account the cost of providing services in a large, thinly populated continent like Australia."

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