ACCC expresses concern about uncertain framework

Uncertainty in the current telco climate continues to hamper deployment of broadband rollouts and next generation services, according the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

With no clear regulation framework in place for Australia's next generation networks (NGN), big expenditures by carriers will not proceed, meaning consumers will be worse off until such changes are made, said Graeme Samuel, chairman of the ACCC.

Speaking at the Australian Telecommunications Summit 2006 in Sydney on Monday, he said Telstra would not commit to putting forward a detailed proposal on its much hyped Fiber to the Node (FTTN) rollout until changes to the Trade Practices Act made it viable for it to proceed.

"At the same time, the ACCC is aware that a number of carriers have well-advanced plans to take up large numbers of ULLS (Unconditioned Local Loop Services) to deploy DSL infrastructure. These competitors currently find themselves in a state of uncertainty and doubt about the viability of their existing ULL-based businesses. For example, how long, how much, and where will ULL be available if FTTN is to be built? And at what prices?"

Unbundling the local loop is the process where carriers and service providers get cheap wholesale access to Telstra's existing copper wire network. It is through the ULL that consumers today get services such as ADSL from alternative providers to Telstra.

An FTTN network is expected to offer the same services, but it is argued with much bigger capacity than if they were delivered over copper.