Telecommunications markets were opened to full competition in 1997 and responsibility for the economic and competition regulation of the industry was passed to the ACCC. The ACCC is responsible for the competition and economic regulation of communications markets.
The general consumer protection provisions contained within the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) apply across the telecommunications industry. The ACCC administers the telecommunications specific provisions in the CCA, comprising competitive safeguards and access regimes, as well as other legislative provisions in the Telecommunications Act 1997 and related legislation.
The central premise of the competitive safeguards regime is that companies must not engage in anti-competitive conduct. The ACCC can issue competition notices in response to allegations of anti-competitive conduct. Importantly, the effect of the notice is to reverse the onus of proof. Recipients of the notice must demonstrate to the court that they are not engaging in anti-competitive conduct.
The telecommunications access regime sets out the framework for the economic regulation of the telecommunications industry. It provides the ACCC with the power to determine which telecommunications services should be ‘declared’. Once the ACCC declares certain services, the owners must provide access to other businesses on reasonable commercial terms. The ACCC can issue price and non-price terms of access for regulated services that can apply industry-wide.
The work of the Communications Group includes:
1. Assessing special access undertakings (SAUs) applications
2. Overseeing Telstra’s implementation of its structural separation undertaking and migration plan and ensuring Telstra’s compliance with its commitments under the undertaking.
3. Conducting inquiries into the declaration of telecommunications services
4. Conducting inquiries into the making of access determinations for regulated services which will contain price and non-price terms and conditions of access
5. Making binding rules of conduct (if needed) to address specific competition issues
6. Investigating allegations of access providers failing to comply with the standard access obligations in the CCA
7. Investigating allegations of anti-competitive conduct
8. Considering exemption order applications for anti-competitive conduct
9. Monitoring & reporting on charges, terms and conditions for telecommunications services and competitive safeguards in the telecommunications industry
10. Industry monitoring, including the ‘Regulatory Accounting Framework’, enhanced accounting separation reporting, retail tariff filings, and bundling of residential services
11. Developing record keeping rules requiring one or more carriers or carriage service providers to keep and retain records and to provide reports to the Commission
The following documentation contains further detail on the work of the Communications Branch.
Fixed Line Services Model (FLSM) User Guide
The FLSM is a model implementing a building block approach to estimating prices for declared fixed access services. It is available at the following location:
FLSM User Guide
The FLSM uses allocation factors developed in the Analysys Cost Model used previously to estimate the long run efficient cost of providing services on the Australian fixed network.
Resolution of Telecommunications Access Disputes
A guide to dispute resolution provisions under Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974
and the Telecommunications Act 1997. It is available at the following location:
Guide - Resolution of Telecommunications Access Disputes
Mobile Terminating Access Service (MTAS) Pricing Principles
Operational information used by the Communications Branch regarding the Mobile terminating access service (MTAS) pricing principles includes the Mobile Termination Cost Model for Australia; User Guide for the WIK Model Version 1.2; and Sample Access Deed for Access to the WIK Model. These documents are available at the following locations:
MTAS 2007 Pricing Principles
Telecommunications Domestic Transmission Capacity Service Regression Model
The regression model is used to determine regulated prices for the declared domestic transmission capacity service. A report explaining the derivation of the model, along with a pricing calculator tool and associated final access determination documents, can be found at the following location:
Telecommunications transmission capacity service regression model
Telecommunications services—Guideline for Part XIC declaration provisions under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010
This guideline sets out the regime under which providers of carriage services and of services supplied by means of carriage services, can access specific wholesale services to conduct their businesses. The guideline provides information about the processes for declaring a service, including an explanation of the differences between how a National Broadband Network (NBN) and non-NBN service can be declared and reflects the recent changes to Part XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Telecommunications Competition Notice Guidelines
This publication sets out the written instrument that constitutes the guidelines issued under
s. 151AP(2), as well as provide an informative overview of the competition notice regime:
Telecommunications competition notice guidelines
Broadband internet speed claims and the CCA
The ACCC has released three information papers relating to broadband internet speed claims as follows:
Broadband internet speed claims information papers
The ACCC has published guidance for retail service providers on how to advertise speeds for fixed-line broadband services, including clearly identifying typical peak speeds.
Non-discrimination provisions were introduced into Part XIC of the CCA as part of the National Broadband Network reforms. Under section 152CJH of the CCA, the ACCC is required to publish explanatory material relating to these non-discrimination provisions on its website. On 19 April 2012, the ACCC released explanatory material under section 152CJH of the CCA.
ACCC acting as Adjudicator
When an Independent Telecommunications Adjudicator (ITA) dispute is referred to the ITA Process, the referring party may elect whether the dispute is heard by the ITA Adjudicator or the ACCC acting as Adjudicator.
Compliance and Enforcement Policy
The purpose of the Compliance and enforcement policy is to set out the principles adopted by the ACCC to achieve compliance with the law and to outline the ACCC’s enforcement powers, functions, priorities, strategies and regime:
Compliance and Enforcement Policy
Submitting confidential material
This guideline sets out the process parties should follow when submitting confidential information to communications inquiries commenced by the ACCC.
It outlines the ACCC’s legal obligations with respect to confidential information, the process for submitting confidential information and how the ACCC will treat confidential information provided in submissions.