ACCC launches public consultation on Telstra SAO exemption

Telstra wants out of regional obligations

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today launched a public consultation on Telstra's transmission capacity exemption application.

Telstra has applied to the ACCC for exemption from service obligations in 20 regional areas due to growing infrastructure competition.

The ACCC set up Standard Access Obligations (SAOs) in June 1997 that require a service provider to offer its domestic transmission capacity service to other service providers, along with specified ancillary services, upon request, where there is limited infrastructure.

A domestic transmission capacity service is a generic service that can be used for the carriage of voice, data or other communications using wideband or broadband carriage.

In a 2004 inquiry, the ACCC proposed that geographical routes which have at least three optical fibre suppliers either serving these regional centres or in very close proximity (within 1km or less from the General Post Office (GPO) of a regional centre for a given capital-regional route) be exempted from declaration.

In its application, Telstra has proposed that any optical fibre network carrier within a distance from the regional centre, equal to 5 per cent of the route distance between the capital city and the regional centre, should also be counted as a competitor in the market.

Telstra's application includes a Market Clarity report, which measured distances between infrastructure Points of Presence (POPs) and Australian General Post Offices (GPOs) using the open source GIS tool, Grass_GIS.

These distances were then compared to a radial distance (equal to 5 per cent of the route distance between the capital city and regional centre), in order to find the number of POPs within a 'radius distance' from a Post Office.

Based on this data, there are 20 regional areas around South Australia, QLD, Vic and NSW with over providers, including Telstra.

The ACCC has issued a discussion paper on Telstra's exemption application. Written submissions in response to the discussion paper are requested by 9 November 2007.

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