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Broadband Competition Inquiry gets Senate tick.



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Senator Kate Lundy

Senator for the Australian Capital Territory Shadow Minister for Information Technology and Sport

Broadband Competition Inquiry gets Senate tick

Labor and the minor parties have been successful in initiating a Senate Inquiry into broadband competition, despite continued opposition from the Howard Government which sought to sweep these issues under the carpet.

The Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee Inquiry has been referred the following matters for inquiry by the Senate:

1. the current and prospective levels of competition in broadband services, including interconnection and pricing in both the wholesale and retail markets; 2. any impediments to competition and to the uptake of broadband technology; 3. the implications of communications technology convergence on competition

in broadband and other emerging markets 4. the impact and relationship between ownership of content and distribution of content on competition; and 5. any opportunities to maximise the capacity and use of existing broadband

infrastructure.

The parlous state of broadband competition in Australia was highlighted by the ACCC’s Report on Emerging Market Structures in the Communications Sector, which raised the issue of competition in Australia’s broadband industry. The Report stated:

“…experience suggests that incumbents or suppliers with substantial market power can stifle the promotion of competition via access regulation by delaying negotiations, provisioning networks in ways not conducive to access and by favouring supply of their own services over those of access seekers.”

Evidence of this delay in the supply of broadband services is found in the latest OECD report, which shows Australia’s declining status in global broadband rankings. OECD figures show that Australia has slipped from 13th to 19th in the OECD since 2000.

The Howard Government seems to be desperate to cover up Australia’s growing anti-competitiveness in broadband markets, and is opposed to this inquiry.

In contrast to the Coalition, Labor believes this inquiry will present a timely and useful forum to gather evidence from the Australian community and stakeholders about competition in broadband services, now and in the future.

26 June 2003. Media contact: Adina Cirson - (02) 6277 3334 or the Electorate Office - 0418 488 295.