World VoIP NewsAustralian regulator seeks USD40mln fine for TelstraAustralian regulator seeks USD40mln fine for Telstra

Australian regulator seeks USD40mln fine for Telstra

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking for a $40 million penalty to be imposed on Telstra Corporation Ltd for alleged breaches of the company's competitive obligations under federal law.
Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra is facing an AUD40 million (USD33.22 million) fine for breaching obligations related to allowing its competitors access to its exchanges, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is looking to levy a penalty against Telstra for each occasion it refused rivals access to its exchanges; under existing legislation the watchdog is allowed to apply fines of up to AUD10 million for each of the 27 incidences of refusal, but it is understood that as the telco has admitted it mistakenly rejected applications the ACCC is considering smaller penalties. Telstra for its part has admitted that it wrongly denied access to alternative operators, although it has claimed that the errors were the result of junior staff acting improperly, rather than following an official company policy.

ACCC is pushing for at least $1 million to be imposed on Telstra each time the telecommunications company refuses to give a competitor access to its telephone exchanges.

Telstra said in a statement that it had since improved staff training and the processes of assessing telephone exchanges. Telstra also announced it would lower broadband prices for small and medium businesses and increase connection speeds. Excess data charges would be halved to 4¢ a megabyte and capped at $400 a month.

In the final submission to Justice Middleton, the ACCC lawyers said Telstra should be fined because the telco giant acted with a "reckless disregard for its obligations".

The final decision on whether Telstra will be charged rests with the Federal Court, and both the ACCC and Telstra have made their final submissions in the case.

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