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Sunday, 26 February 2006 13:57

Telstra's Operational Separation plan an empty shell, says CCC

The Competitive Carriers' Coalition (CCC) says it is unable to provide a meaningful response to Telstra's draft operational separation plan because the details that it expected to be the heart of the document have not been included.

Earlier this month Telstra released a preliminary draft of its operational separation plan and invited comments. Release of the draft followed a ministerial direction last year. Announcing the move, communications minister, senator Helen Coonan, said: "Operational separation is designed to increase the transparency of Telstra's internal operations and require Telstra to demonstrate that it provides its wholesale customers equivalent treatment to its own retail businesses. When implemented, operational separation will also require Telstra to maintain separate retail, wholesale and network business units."

The draft plan makes reference to four so-called strategy documents, but these have not been provided. According to the CCCC, "Telstra's draft operational separation plan is, in effect, a statement by Telstra that it will publish arrangements for dealing with service quality, information handling, information security and customer responsiveness in the future, and then comply with those statements...The detail of what will be in these plans is clearly what the Minister was asking for, not a promise that plans would be written sometime in the future."

The government has already been criticised for leaving the responsibility for developing the operational separation plan with Telstra.

According to the CCC, "It is the detail of these strategies that must be exposed to the widest public scrutiny before anyone can have any confidence that Telstra's anti-competitive conduct will be constrained, or that there will be any additional transparency available to the regulator in investigating complaints against Telstra."

The CCC also suggests that these documents, if published separately to the plan, may not form part of the operational separation plan itself. "Therefore, they will presumably not be subject to the arrangements in the Act related to the requirements for Telstra to comply with the operational separation plan."

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