Regulate ADSL2+ to avoid cost blowout

Industry calls for wholesale access to new exchanges

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and industry commentators have attacked Telstra and the government for not drafting ADSL2+ regulation and have called for discussions between industry and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Telstra this week activated some 952 exchanges for ADSL2+ which broke a regulatory stalemate with the federal government over wholesale access to Telstra infrastructure.

Almost 2.4 million premises across Australia were given access to ADSL2+ with theoretical Internet speeds of up to 24Mbps.

Netspace regulatory affairs manager Ben Dunscombe said ADSL2+ broadband prices will be too expensive if the government does not enforce a similar access regulation applied to first generation ADSL.

"Without this access being provided and the market opened up to competition consumers will be hit with an anti competition tax between $30 and $50 on ADSL2+ plans by being forced to buy them from Telstra Bigpond," Dunscombe said.

"The price of ADSL 1 has tumbled year on year following the advent of competition through the wholesale model to the point that the vast majority of Australian consumers now have access to affordable broadband.

"If this model is not carried across to ADSL2+, consumers in key metropolitan areas that have competition will have access to affordable ADSL2+ and those in regional areas, where there is no competition, will be forced to pay inflated prices."

Dunscombe said the government will cause a Telstra Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network to be too expensive for consumers unless it drafts and enforces third-party regulation for ADSL2+.

He called for the ACCC to intervene and consider a declaration of ADSL2+ services if Telstra does not offer wholesale access to the infrastructure.

An ACCC declaration of ADSL2+ services would mandate that Telstra must give other telcos access to its network.

Primus Telecom CEO Ravi Bhatia said he has formally requested the ACCC to implement an ADSL2+ declaration and said it is the only way to ensure fair broadband prices across Australia.

"Telstra has denied us access to many key exchanges to expand out network [and] in many cases Primus and other competitors have been queuing more than eight months to get into exchanges to deploy broadband equipment," Bhatia said.

"You can be assured that Telstra will jump these queues to install its own DSL equipment in whatever exchanges it so chooses.

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