Telstra faces $32 million fine for denying network access to competitors

Telstra (ASX: TLS.AX) may now have to shell out $32 million in fines for preventing competitors connecting to its telephone exchanges to deliver DSL service.

Initially, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wanted the incumbent operator to pay $1 million for each of the reported 27 times where it did not provide access to its exchanges to competitors. The ACCC said in its filing that Telstra showed ''a reckless disregard for its obligations'' mandated by Australia's Act and Trade Practices Act.

Under Australia's Telecommunications Act and Trade Practices Act, the ACCC could levy $10 million in fines for each of the 27 instances where it denied competitors access to its exchanges. However, the ACCC is dialing back the fines because Telstra confessed that it rejected competitor's applications.

While Telstra admitted it did deny access at seven of its exchanges, it claims that the refusals were the result of junior staff mistakes. Now, the final decision on whether or to make Telstra pay the fine rests in the hands of Federal Court in Melbourne Justice John Middleton.

For more:
- Sydney Morning Herald has this article
- TeleGeography has this article

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