Pivotel Federal Court case against Optus advances

Satellite provider Pivotel granted right to file statement of claimes against Optus for alleged "network blocking"

Pivotel has notched up a minor victory in its Federal Court case against Optus, with the satellite service provider being granted the right to file a statement of claim.

“We are pleased with Federal Court Judge Jagot’s decision to grant Pivotel the right to file our statement of claim,” Pivotel managing director, Peter Bolger, said in a statement to Computerworld Australia.

“We look forward to being able to fully argue our claim that Optus has taken advantage of its market power to substantially lessen competition in the retail mobile satellite market and the retail international call market, as well as having engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.”

According to Pivotel the case stems from action from Optus in December 2009, which it claims saw Optus block all calls and SMS messages originating on its network from customers trying to make a call or send an SMS to Pivotel’s network.

Pivotel alleges Optus took this action to prevent the revenue loss that was occurring due to a significant number of their customers utilising the low cost international call service offered by Pivotel.

The company is concerned about the impact the alleged network blocking may have had on police and emergency services personnel being unable to make calls from an Optus phone to a Globalstar mobile satellite service during an emergency and for the general inability of Optus customers to make contact with a Globalstar user or access Pivotel’s other services.

In response to the alleged Optus action, Pivotel initiated proceedings against Optus in the Federal Court.

Pivotel alleges that Optus breached the Trade Practices Act by using its market power to substantially lessen competition and has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.

Pivotel supplies mobile satellite voice and data services to approx. 8,000 Globalstar end users who represent various government agencies including emergency services, mining, transport and trade industries as well as individuals.

In addition, Pivotel provides a two stage dialling international calling service whereby fixed and mobile users can call a Pivotel number to make low cost international calls.

Computerworld Australia is seeking comment from Optus on the case.

Earlier this month Pivotel, with partner Globalstar, launched six second generation satellites in Kazakhstan.

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Tim Lohman

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