The Australian Telecommunications Access Regime - ten years on

2017-05-01T05:11:33Z (GMT) by Chavan, Meena Raiche, Holly
When open competition was introduced through the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), Part XIB The Telecommunications Industry: Anti-Competitive Conduct and Record-Keeping rules and Part XIC Telecommunications Access Regime were added to the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) to underpin open competition. In moving from the former Government owned monopoly providers to open competition, new competitors to the former monopolist Telecom (now Telstra) had to be able to interconnect to Telstras infrastructure to be able to provide competing services. The Governments aim was that, in the first instance, interconnection arrangements would be commercially negotiated. Failing successful negotiations, however, the Access Regime provided that the bottleneck facilities could be declared. Once a service is declared, the provider of the declared service has specific obligations to provide interconnection on specified terms, with the possibility that the ACCC can arbitrate disputes on access to declared services. Ten years later, the effectiveness of the Access Regime is being questioned, by the competition regulator, by Telstra and by Telstras competitors.The purpose of this paper is to review the effectiveness of the Access Regime and consider whether it can be further amended to improve its effectiveness (there have been significant amendments to the Access Regime in 1999, 2002 and 2005) or whether other measures to ensure a competitive environment in telecommunications should be considered.The research for this paper has been an examination of written material, including significant reports on competition in telecommunications by the Productivity Commission and by ACCC reports on competition in the industry. It has also examined the many ACCC inquiries into Access Regime issues, submissions to those inquiries and public statements made by industry participants. Copyright 2008 Meena Chavan and Holly Raiche. No part of this article may be reproduced by any means without the written consent of the publisher.