ACCC puts Telstra on notice

Australia's competition watchdog placed Telstra on notice today warning the telco it faces penalties for engaging in anticompetitive conduct in its treatment of wholesale broadband customers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it can take action against Telstra in the Federal court because a competition notice issued to Telstra last September comes into force today.

It also allows competitors to seek damages from Telstra for anticompetitive conduct under the Trade Practices Act.

Telstra was put on notice for not offering services that competitors needed to compete fairly against BigPond products, specifically ADSL broadband technology requested by wholesale customers more than a year ago.

A period of time was allowed since the notice to let Telstra complete network upgrades.

However, ACCC chairman Allan Fels said Telstra retail has been utilising the technology yet it has not been made available to wholesale customers.

Telstra group managing director Bruce Akhurst said the competition notice is unnecessary and unjustified and that drawn-out legal proceedings will only make it harder for the telco to address customer concerns.

"Our wholesale customers are busy doing business with us and Telstra cannot understand what the ACCC requires the company do in response to the competition notice," Akhurst said.

"Telstra hopes the ACCC has not intervened without first properly understanding the technical issues it purports to be addressing.

"Until the ACCC can tell us what it requires, we will continue to engage directly with our wholesale customers and listen to their requirements."

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