ACCC Commences Inquiry into Telstra Fixed-Line Services
The ACCC is commencing an inquiry on the future of six fixed-line services on Telstra’s copper network post 31 July 2019 when they are set to expire.
The services, offered as part of Telstra’s copper network, are currently ‘declared’ services under section 152AL of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).
Declaration allows access seekers to acquire the services on certain terms and conditions, including a maximum price.
The six declared services are the unconditioned local loop service (ULLS), line sharing service (LSS), wholesale line rental (WLR), local carriage service (LCS) and fixed originating and terminating access services (FOAS and FTAS).
“The copper network remains relevant to a large number of people during the transition period to the National Broadband Network. The ACCC will consider whether continued declaration is warranted in the long-term interests of consumers.” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
The ACCC is also releasing a consultation and position paper for comment today. After considering submissions, the ACCC will then consider whether to proceed to a final declaration decision.
Sims also said today that he believes there is a strong case for strengthening business-to-business contract terms for small businesses and introducing penalties for breaking those terms.
Addressing the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) National Small Business Summit 2018, Sims said current unfair contract laws don’t go far enough and that the ACCC’s hands are effectively tied by the laws’ limitations.
Australian Consumer Law currently allows a potentially unfair contract term to be challenged in a court so it can be declared void, but it does not prohibit such a term being included in a contract in the first place.
The ACCC is also restricted by what it can do to hold businesses accountable for prior conduct and is unable to issue infringement notices for unfair contract terms.
“As it stands, no real incentive exists for businesses to ensure their standard contracts do not contain such terms, which really means they have incentives to include them and see if they can get away with it,” Sims says.