Wednesday, 19 December 2018 23:54

ACCC issues interim prices for Christmas Island transmission services Featured

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Binding rules of conduct setting out interim prices for new wholesale transmission services to Christmas Island have been issued by the competition watchdog, the ACCC.

The rules, announced on Wednesday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, set interim price terms for access to regulated Domestic Transmission Capacity Services which will be provided over recently-constructed long-distance subsea cable infrastructure.

Transmission services, also known as backhaul, are high-capacity wholesale services that carry large volumes of voice, data and video traffic, often over long distances.

Vocus Communications has built a wholesale transmission link to Christmas Island as part of its Australia Singapore Cable project, which links Perth to Singapore, and plans to provide domestic transmission services to Christmas Island from February 2019.

The ACCC announced the new rules as the current national regulated prices for transmission services, set in 2016 and due to expire at the end of 2019, do not take into account the higher costs of building and operating long-distance subsea cables.

The rules were issued followed an application by Vocus.

The ACCC says the arrangement will remain in place until permanent prices are determined during a public inquiry process, which commences today.

“It is important for competition and investment that access prices reflect the costs of providing a service, including a reasonable return on investment,” ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“We look forward to hearing stakeholder views on the permanent prices that should apply to this new transmission service.”

The ACCC will examine the interim prices during its public inquiry, and, in addition, is launching a separate inquiry into pricing for the national regulated DTCS network, the current arrangement for which expires on 31 December 2019.

The ACCC says it intends to run a combined public consultation process covering both inquiries and will release a more detailed consultation and position paper in early 2019.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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