Telstra has just released a statement with regard to the recently commenced litigation against them by the ACCC. The statement is as follows:

The ACCC’s court action against Telstra today is a transparent attempt to pave the way for further legislative shackles on Telstra.

Telstra’s Group Managing Director Public Policy and Communications David Quilty said it was a complete waste of court time and taxpayer money.

“The ACCC is suing us for something we proactively and voluntarily reviewed and fixed a year ago. This case relates to a small number of inadvertent process issues. There was an issue and we fixed it – without the involvement of the ACCC. Since we fixed the problem a year ago, the ACCC has not once suggested it had problems with our new processes.”

In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the number of access seekers to Telstra exchanges, and Telstra has accommodated – and heavily subsidised – these competitors. There are now nearly 1.2 million unbundled local loop and spectrum sharing services in operation through Telstra exchanges. In July 2003, there were just 18,000 unbundled local loop and only seven spectrum sharing services.

The ACCC was informed about Telstra’s review of access to its exchanges. In July 2008, the ACCC instituted a reporting regime to keep an eye on the process. To Telstra’s knowledge, no issues have been identified by the ACCC under Telstra’s current processes. Now, some nine months later, the ACCC has sued Telstra for a past failure to allow access to a handful of exchanges.

“The ACCC has consistently campaigned for greater powers to meddle in the telecommunications industry,” Mr Quilty said. “Taking court action a year after this issue was resolved is a clear demonstration of what is wrong with the current regime and the way it is administered.”

At the beginning of 2008, in response to industry concerns, Telstra proactively reviewed its processes for determining when an exchange building was full and hence unavailable for competitors to install their equipment. Telstra has more than 5000 exchanges. Originally, 76 were listed as full. As a result of the review, new processes were put in place and 24 exchanges were immediately removed from the list, while 24 others were listed as potentially capped, leaving less than 1 per cent of exchanges categorised as full.

“You have a situation where a company proactively checks its processes, finds minor and inadvertent errors, immediately rectifies the problem but is hounded through the courts regardless,” Mr Quilty said.

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