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Competition regulator undertaking inquiry into telco transmission services Featured

Transmission wholesale services in the telecommunications sector — including  the impact that NBN services are having on competition within the transmission market — are to come under scrutiny from the competition watchdog, the ACCC, in a public inquiry which has just opened.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding the inquiry to determine whether declaration of the Domestic Transmission Capacity Service (DTCS) remains appropriate in light of changes to the market, including the growth of commercial alternatives available to service providers, new NBN products for business customers and industry consolidation.

The ACCC says that, given Australia’s large regional size and low population density, the regulation of a domestic transmission service in areas where there is insufficient competition is essential to promote the long-term interests of consumers and businesses in retail markets.

It is undertaking the inquiry as many service providers are now acquiring non-regulated commercial domestic transmission services in preference to the regulated DTCS service, which is due to expire on 31 March 2019.

“It is important to review the scope of our regulation to determine whether the way in which we describe the regulated service adequately reflects the manner in which transmission services are currently being sold and purchased,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“If the market has changed to a significant extent, we will examine whether other service features should be included in the service description.

“Since the DTCS was last declared, NBN Co has announced a number of new business enterprise products targeted to meet business customer needs. We also note that the introduction of 5G networks could offer an alternative technology over which high capacity short distance transmission services may be delivered.

“This declaration inquiry takes place at an important time for the communications market. The NBN rollout has progressed significantly since we last looked at the domestic transmission market and we need to examine the impact that NBN services are having on competition within the transmission market.” Sims said.

“As part of this inquiry we will examine competition in transmission at NBN points of interconnection, as these transmission services are essential in carrying traffic between the POI and a service provider’s network.

"Given further industry consolidation since 2014, the ACCC will consider the extent to which this has impacted competition.”

Sims said that during the ACCC’s recent inquiry into whether domestic mobile roaming should be declared, it received a number of submissions about transmission costs and decisions to deploy or upgrade mobile networks in regional areas.

“As we indicated during that inquiry, we will consider whether transmission services used for the supply of mobile services in remote and regional Australia should be considered separately to other transmission services,” Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking views on these issues via its discussion paper by 13 April.


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Peter Dinham

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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