ISPs unite to fight Australian telco over access lock out

Telstra taken on

Internode and nine other ISPs have lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) against Telstra's refusal to wholesale parts of its newly established ADSL services.

Up to 952 exchanges across regional Australia are being activated for ADSL2+ after Telstra broke the regulatory stalemate with the federal government early this month.

The group accused Telstra of anti-competitive conduct because it is not obliged to offer wholesale ADSL where it is not economically viable for competitors to establish an equivalent service.

Internode managing director Simon Hackett says the alliance wants the ACCC to review regulatory access to ADSL services. "We believe that Telstra's decision not to offer wholesale access to ADSL2+ services will lead to a substantial lessening of competition," Hackett says.

"By excluding competitors from wholesale access to its ADSL2+ services, Telstra can lure customers of other ISPs into two or three-year contracts.

"This substantial lessening of competition will have an adverse impact on consumers, both in terms of price and the range of services available."

The group, consisting of iinet, Internode, TSN Communications and Westnet, is appealing for a Competition Notice to be immediately issued under Part XIB of the Trade Practices Act.

Telstra could face penalties upwards of A$10 million (NZ$11.7 million) per offense and A$1 million each day it continues to breach the Act.

The submission accuses Telstra of inflating backhaul prices 10-fold in areas where it is the only provider, lying about the number of available ADSL ports, and delaying the installation of competing DSLAMs by more than two years when it can activate its own in less than 48 hours.

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