Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) has accused Telstra of administrative wrangling and stifling customer choice, claiming the carrier was "blocking" a local number portability process for a number of ex-Telstra business customers migrating to CWO's network.
According to a CWO statement, Telstra has failed since November 1999 to perform "complex number" porting procedures for around 40 former Telstra business clients moving to CWO.
Under Australian Communications Authority (ACA) guidelines, Telstra is legally required to perform the porting for migrating customers.
Specifically, CWO has asked Telstra to perform immediate porting for a new enterprise client signed in June this year. The client is an interstate business on a suburban exchange and has more than 1000 lines, a Telstra spokeswoman said.
Inresponse, Telstra has demanded $1000 from CWO to foot a "feasibility study" into network traffic forecasting for the customer at stake. Telstra said the amount would cover a network upgrade required by the business.
According to Telstra, the "forecasting" would also take 12 to 18 months, a "routine" part of the porting process.
Also, it would take another four to six months before the porting for the business was achieved, said Paul Fletcher, CWO's director of regulatory and public affairs.
CWO declined to name the business in limbo - "That would be commercially incompetent", a company spokeswoman claimed.
Telstra maintained the onus was on CWO to raise the red flag to Telstra once CWO signed up an ex-Telstra customer to switch networks.
"If [CWO] had told us in June [the business] was a new CWO customer, the porting would have happened in a month," the Telstra spokeswoman said.
Oddly, the spokeswoman said it took Telstra 11 weeks on average to provide portability for any business.
In the interim, the 40 businesses affected could opt to divert their calls to personal or other alternative numbers, the Telstra spokeswoman suggested.
CWO has referred the debacle to the ACA and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), "confident" the authorities will "take action" against Telstra's conduct.
Telstra was not fazed by CWO's retaliation. "We've got a good case. CWO's claims are completely inaccurate," the spokeswoman said.