Telstra fights $300m regulator fine

Telco admits bungles "not good enough"

Telstra has gone to the Federal Court to reduce the $300 million financial hit it may incur from misleading and deceptive charges brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The telco and the competition regulator today submitted evidence to the Federal Court in Victoria on 30 breaches by Telstra of standard access obligations, amounting to $300 million.

Telstra has admitted to denying competitors access to seven of its metropolitan telephone exchanges in March in which it claimed there was insufficient capacity on its main distribution frames.

The telco did not confirm at the time of writing how many access breaches will contest during the nine days of hearings.

Telstra is obliged under the Telecommunications Act to provide rival carriers with access to its exchanges, and each breach of the Act holds a maximum penalty of $10 million.

Telstra spokesman John Court said it had admitted fault to “a very, very small number” of breaches, equating to “about 1 per cent of requests”.

“It was not a sinister act… but it’s not good enough,” Court said.

It is understood the breaches came at a time of burgeoning demand for space in Telstra exchanges in which the telco was under heightened pressure to meet access obligations.

The Federal Court in Victoria accepted evidence from ISPs in support of the breaches at a directions hearing in August last year.

In May, the ACCC rejected Telstra’s December 2007 attempt to deny competitors access to its copper infrastructure and then extended its determination for a further five years in July.

An ACCC spokeswoman refused to comment on the case.

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Tags Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)Federal Court of AustraliaTelstra

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