Phone line rates released

RATES to use Telstra’s fixed line phone network have been released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Telstra proposes a headline rate of 2.3 cents per minute for 1999/2000 and 2.0 cents per minute for 2000/01.

Under Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act, the ACCC must accept or reject the undertaking based on whether the terms or conditions are reasonable.

The lodgement of the new undertaking follows ACCC’s rejection of Telstra’s previous phone network undertaking in June on the grounds that the non-price terms and conditions were not reasonable.

ACCC commissioner for telecommunications Rod Shogren said the undertaking, if accepted by the ACCC, would determine the terms and conditions on which other carriers obtained interconnection to Telstra’s network in the absence of a commercial agreement between the parties.

To this end, the undertaking reduces the role of the ACCC to arbitrate

disputes between parties over the terms and conditions of interconnection.

“The ACCC intends to assess the undertaking in an open public process,” Mr Shogren said.

“All available information will be taken into account, including relevant material provided in the assessment of Telstra’s previous undertaking, the effects of the changes to Telstra’s price caps and the company’s ability to achieve cost reductions over time.”

A Telstra spokesman said it believed “an expeditious consideration of the undertaking would best serve the interests of all those in the industry”.

The ACCC will seek comments on the undertaking by 12 November.

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