Telstra submits network separation plan to Australian telecom regulators

With its $11.6 billion network sale on the table, Telstra (ASX: TLS.AX) has put a plan in place detailing how it will migrate customers from its copper network to the government's National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Structural Separation Undertaking (SSU) plan, along with the separate Migration Plan, which deals with migrating existing customers to the NBN, has been submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for approval.

While the proposed plans still have to gain both the ACCC's and Telstra's shareholder approvals, the service provider has set July 1, 2018 as the date it will complete its structural separation. Then, in 2020, Telstra will decommission its copper network, which is when the NBN will be finished.

"The submission of these documents is another important step in finalising Telstra's participation in the rollout of the National Broadband Network," David Thodey, Telstra's CEO, said in a statement. "Along with seeking shareholder approval, ACCC acceptance of the SSU and approval of the migration plan are critical conditions precedent to the Definitive Agreements signed in June."

Under the terms of the agreement Telstra set with the ACCC, the service provider is required to publish a rate card for how much its retail arm has to pay to provide wireline services and wholesale DSL services. It is also required to resolve any network issues on its wholesale and retail units within the same timeframe.

In addition, Telstra had to agree to implement what is known as 'ring fencing obligations' to prevent Telstra's retail division from seeing information about its wholesale customer base.

Although this plan appears to be a step forward in the ongoing NBN transition, Telstra's main competitor Optus believes the plan does not go far enough to level the competitive playing field.  

''These arrangements should establish a legal obligation on Telstra to ensure that there is genuine equivalence of price and non-price conditions between retail and wholesale--and these arrangements do not do that,'' said Andrew Sheridan, Optus's general manager of interconnect and economic regulation.

For more:
- Sydney Morning Herald has this article

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