On 28 February 2012 the ACCC formally accepted Telstra's structural separation undertaking (SSU) and approved its draft migration plan. Telstra submitted its SSU to the ACCC as a result of the legislative framework established in the package of telecommunications reforms introduced by the Federal Government in 2009. The undertaking implements structural separation through migration to the NBN. Key features of the new regime include undertakings by Telstra to:
- deliver price equivalence to all its copper-based access services and exchanges through new wholesale contracts that will specify that, as a default position, the charges set out in ACCC access determinations are to apply.
- renegotiate existing wholesale ADSL contracts in light of the ACCC's recent access determination if requested by a wholesale customer.
- adhere to new interim measures including specific commitments to ensure the quality of Telstra's supply of regulated services, and the security of wholesale customer information. These commitments are supported by ring fencing arrangements and the periodic reporting of key performance indicators and financial accounts.
- adopt various compliance measures and dispute resolution processes, including an independent telecommunications adjudicator scheme.
NBN Co and Telstra have also addressed some issues regarding commercial arrangements raised by the ACCC. For example restrictions on Telstra promoting wireless services as a substitute for fibre services were removed, with Telstra's marketing of those services instead being governed by the usual requirements of the Australian Consumer Law. In addition, NBN Co and Telstra have provided an undertaking to the ACCC that amendments to commercial arrangements that would restrict either party from competing will be subject to ACCC oversight.
On 24 February 2012 the ACCC made a decision to declare the non-NBN local bitstream access service and begin a public enquiry. The declaration is intended to cover the 'last mile' of fibre to residences and small businesses on networks that are not owned by NBN Co and does not apply to mobile, wireless or satellite networks.
The ACCC also announced that it has received submissions to its initial consultation on NBN Co's special access undertaking. The undertaking would, if accepted in its current form, provide a framework for NBN access pricing over the next 30 years. A number of submissions to the initial consultation raised significant concerns with the NBN Co undertaking in its current form and called stricter regulatory oversight of NBN pricing. A further more detailed consultation paper has now been issued by the ACCC, with submissions due by the end of March.
In early February, the ACCC made a decision to declare the wholesale ADSL service under section 152AL of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC considers that declaration will remove impediments to competitors obtaining access to Telstra's national ADSL network on efficient terms, thereby promoting competition in retail broadband markets in the lead-up to NBN rollout. At the same time as declaring the wholesale ADSL service, the ACCC made an interim access determination establishing initial terms and conditions of access, and commenced an inquiry into making a final access determination.