The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an inquiry into whether its regulation of the wholesale ADSL service delivered by Telstra should continue.
The ACCC’s initial declaration of the service was in February 2012 and it is set to expire in February next year.
When the ACCC declares a service it means that an access provider, such as Telstra, must open it up to access seekers (in this cases the telcos that sell ADSL services using Telstra’s network).
The initial declaration of the ADSL service came on the back of a history of concerns about the prices Telstra charged other telcos as well as non-price conditions imposed on access seekers.
A discussion paper released today by the ACCC notes that changes in the telecommunications landscape since it first declared the ADSL service include the growth in the number of people able to access the National Broadband Network as well as the increased volumes of data downloaded by Australians using both fixed-line and wireless broadband.
However the paper also notes that since the ACCC’s previous declaration inquiry “the state of competition in the high speed fixed-line broadband market appears to have changed very little.”
“At both the wholesale and retail levels, Telstra seems to have retained its relatively dominant position,” the paper states.
The combined DSL footprint of all of the telco’s rivals is only 22 per cent of Telstra’s wholesale DSL network.
A recent decision by the ACCC to cut the prices that Telstra can charge other telcos for a range of wholesale services, including the ADSL service, is currently subject to a Federal Court challenge. Telstra had sought an increase in the prices of the services, but the ACCC instead opted for a cut.
TPG, Optus, Macquarie Telecom, MyNetFone’s wholesale subsidiary Symbio, and Telcoinabox have joined the case, opposing Telstra’s application for judicial review of the ACCC decision.
The ACCC is accepting submissions on its discussion paper until 29 July.
The organisation expects to complete its inquiry before the current declaration expires.