Cut ac­cess price, Tel­stra told

Kalgoorlie Miner - - BUSINESS - Syd­ney

Phone and in­ter­net bills are likely to fall af­ter the com­pe­ti­tion watchdog rec­om­mended Tel­stra cut the price it charges other tel­cos to ac­cess its cop­per wire net­work.

Many of Tel­stra’s phone and in­ter­net ri­vals pay the telco gi­ant to pro­vide phone and broad­band ser­vices via the Tel­stra net­work.

The Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion says that price should fall by 9.6 per cent from Oc­to­ber, as the num­ber of Aus­tralians re­ly­ing on the cop­per net­work falls as it is pro­gres­sively re­placed by the na­tional broad­band net­work.

The fall­ing num­ber of cus­tomers still us­ing ser­vices pro­vided over the cop­per net­work should not be hit with the size­able costs of main­tain­ing the age­ing as­set, the ACCC said.

“If there is no ad­just­ment for these higher costs then cus­tomers who have not been mi­grated to the NBN will pay sig­nif­i­cantly higher prices for cop­per-based ser­vices,” chair­man Rod Sims said.

“Even­tu­ally, these prices would reach ab­surd lev­els for the un­lucky last cop­per cus­tomers.”

Tel­stra said it was dis­ap­pointed with the rec­om­mended price cut.

The ACCC should be set­ting prices that mean all com­pa­nies us­ing the cop­per net­work equally bear the cost of op­er­at­ing it, a com­pany spokesman said.

The per-cus­tomer cost of op­er­at­ing the net­work will rise in the next few years, and Tel­stra’s deal with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for the roll­out of the NBN does not ac­count for the in­crease, the telco said.

“If the ACCC re­duces ac­cess prices on the legacy net­work, they risk mak­ing the tran­si­tion to the NBN harder for ev­ery­one — con­sumers, in­dus­try and NBN Co,” the spokesman said.

The ACCC’s de­ci­sion is only a draft rul­ing, with fur­ther mar­ket feed­back be­ing sought be­fore the reg­u­la­tor makes a fi­nal rul­ing at the end of Septem­ber.

Tel­stra said it would work with the ACCC to en­sure its de­ci­sion treated all users of its net­work equally. AAP

Pic­ture: AAP

ACCC chair­man Rod Sims warns cus­tomers not on the NBN will pay higher prices for cop­per-based ser­vices if costs are not ad­justed.

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