Telstra Corporation Ltd has notified the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission of an access dispute with Optus Mobile Pty Ltd and Optus Networks Pty Ltd, under Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974.The dispute relates to the price paid by Telstra for the Domestic Mobile Terminating Access Service supplied by Optus by means of its mobile networks, for 2006. The ACCC has commenced the arbitration process for this access dispute. Given that the legislation contemplates that arbitrations be conducted in private, the ACCC will not be making any public comment at this stage.The Domestic Mobile Terminating Access Service is a wholesale input, used by providers of fixed-to-mobile and mobile-to-mobile calls, to allow their customers to call mobile phone users. It allows consumers (either fixed-line or mobile) to call mobile users connected to another network. The carrier whose customer initiates the call pays the carrier whose customer receives the call for the mobile terminating access service. In this case, the dispute relates to the charges for carrying that portion of a call which terminates on Optus's mobile networks.The ACCC is vested with arbitration powers enabling it to make directions and 'do all things necessary for the speedy hearing and determination of an access dispute'. For the ACCC to engage in arbitration, an access seeker and/or an access provider must notify the ACCC of an access dispute. The ACCC may arbitrate an access dispute only where:a declared service is supplied or proposed to be supplied by a carrier or carriage service provider one or more standard access obligations apply or will apply to the carrier or carriage provider in relation to the declared service, and an access seeker is unable to agree with the carrier or carriage service provider regarding the terms and conditions on which the carrier or carriage service provider is to comply with the standard access obligations.Where a dispute cannot be resolved after private negotiations, mediation and/or conciliation, either of the access parties may refer the matter to the ACCC. Arbitration by the ACCC would be considered as a final solution for the parties in dispute. Where the ACCC is notified of an access dispute the ACCC must determine the matter, unless it decides to terminate the arbitration or the notification is otherwise withdrawn.
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