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Have your say on controlling Telstra costs

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will next week hold public hearings in Perth and Albany as part of its national inquiry to determine whether there is a need for retail price control arrangements to continue to apply to Telstra after June 30.

The hearings will be in Perth on November 14 and in Albany on November 15.

Should the ACCC consider there is still a need for price control arrangements, the public inquiry should also determine what form they should take, including their duration, means of implementation and mechanisms for their review.

Some of the controls relevant to this review include the:

* Price cap on a broad basked of services (including long distance calls, local calls and line rentals);

* The 22¢ (GST-inclusive) price cap on local calls; and

* The local call parity requirement (which ensures that residential, charity and business customers in non-metropolitan areas pay broadly the same for untimed local calls as those in metropolitan areas).

The requirement for Telstra to provide untimed local calls is not included in the review.

As part of the review, the ACCC issued a discussion paper in late September and received submissions at the end of October.

The discussion paper contains the terms of reference and a discussion of the relevant issues and it can be downloaded from http://www.accc.gov.au

The ACCC expects to finalise its review of the price control arrangements by late January.

* Professor Allan Fels is chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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