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Structural reform of telecommunications a step closer



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Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity

Media Release

Date: 24 June 2011

Structural reform of telecommunications a step closer

Structural reform of the telecommunications industry moved closer today with the making of five key regulatory instruments by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The instruments provide the framework for Telstra’s structural separation and Telstra may now choose to proceed with lodging its structural separation undertaking with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Senator Conroy said significant improvements had been made to the instruments as a result of submissions received during the consultation period - which closed on 15 June - and he thanked interested parties for their contributions.

"I appreciate the genuine interest shown in the details of the draft instruments and the careful and considered analysis provided in response," Senator Conroy said.

"The telecommunications industry fully understands the magnitude of these reforms. They provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a level playing field and enable competition and investment to flourish for the benefit of consumers."

Senator Conroy said interim transparency and equivalence arrangements are not intended to require Telstra to undertake functional separation.

"But they are intended to provide meaningful improvements to existing arrangements for industry access to Telstra's copper network," he said.

"The instruments I made today will require Telstra to make new commitments to equivalence and provide for stronger transparency measures during Telstra’s transition to full structural separation.

"The delivery of this structural reform, in parallel with the rollout of the National Broadband Network, will finally enable all Australians to have better and fairer access to world class broadband services at affordable prices."

Background

Now that Definitive Agreements have been reached between NBN Co and Telstra and agreement being reached between the Government and Telstra, Telstra will lodge a structural separation undertaking (SSU) and migration plan.

The following five instruments were made under Part 33 of the Telecommunications Act 1997. Part 33 was inserted by the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Act 2010, which was passed by the Parliament on 29 November 2010.

The Telecommunications (Acceptance of Undertaking about Structural Separation—Matters) Instrument 2011 sets out the matters to which the ACCC must have regard in deciding whether to accept Telstra’s SSU.

The Telecommunications (Structural Separation—Networks and Services Exemption) Instrument (No.1) 2011 exempts certain networks and services from the scope of Telstra’s SSU.

The Telecommunications (Migration Plan Principles) Determination 2011 sets out the mandatory elements of the migration plan. The migration plan deals with matters concerning the timing of, and processes involved in, the migration of customers from Telstra’s fixed-line networks to the NBN. Once a migration plan has been approved by the ACCC, the provisions of that plan have effect as provisions of the SSU.

The Telecommunications (Migration Plan—Specified Matters) Instrument 2011 specifies matters that a migration plan may contain, in addition to those specified under the Telecommunications Act. This instrument also sets out matters that a migration plan must not contain.

The Telecommunications (Regulated Services) Determination (No. 1) 2011 determines services to which the transparency and equivalence measures set out in the SSU must apply.

The regulatory instruments can be accessed at: www.dbcde.gov.au/broadband/national_broadband_network/telecommunications_regulatory_refor m

Contact: Lyall Johnson 0408 258 457