ACCC to release Telstra from wholesale voice obligations

The ACCC is proposing to set Telstra free from its existing wholesale voice obligations, which will improve market competition, the commission says.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a draft proposal that would release Telstra from its obligations to supply particular wholesale voice services to metropolitan areas in Australia.

While not exactly what Telstra initially requested from the ACCC, the proposed exemptions would include more than half of Telstra’s lines – about 4 million.

The draft demands a 12-month transition period, as well as continued availability of the Unconditioned Local Loop Service (ULLS).

The commission said the proposed changes would increase competition in the voice market in two ways: making access seeker companies that resell local calls to end-users more inclined to adopt ULLS, while also making better use of their existing ULLS infrastructure.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel said: "Promoting ULLS-based supply of voice services will be in the long-term interests of end-users.”

"Competitors using their own DSLAM facilities can more dynamically innovate their services than if they use pure resale of Telstra's services. This has already led to more dynamic and sustainable competition than pure resale models."

The commission did however note that a fibre deployment would ultimately render DSLAM equipment at exchanges obsolete, but said ULLS-based infrastructure would be just as viable in the short term.

“Transitioning to ULLS allows access seekers to build their reputation and customer base,” a statement from the ACCC read.

“Also, sufficiently certain migration arrangements would be required to prepare access seekers transitioning from ULLS to an alternative fibre-based service.”

The draft will soon be available on the ACCC website. Comments must be to the commission before 27 May 2008.


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