The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided to vary the existing final access determinations (FADs), which set price and non-price terms and conditions for access to regulated fixed line services, for four such services. In announcing its latest decision, the regulator noted that the existing FADs, as varied, will remain in effect until new determinations for all seven regulated fixed line services are made, expected in mid-2015. For now, the ACCC has confirmed it will vary the FADs for the Unconditioned Local Loop Service (ULLS), the Line Sharing Service (LSS), the Local Carriage Service (LCS) and the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service. As per the revised determinations, the watchdog claims that the changes with regards to WLR and LCS ‘will ensure that regulated prices are available for [both] services in CBD areas from 1 August 2014’. It added that this will allow consumers to benefit from its recent decision to regulate the supply of these services in CBD areas, where competition from fibre and other networks had not proven to be ‘sufficiently effective’. Meanwhile, the ULLS and LSS FAD variations ‘will ensure that a regulated internal interconnection cable charge is available to access seekers acquiring the ULLS and/or LSS after 30 June 2014, when the current regulated charges set in the ACCC’s 2012 arbitration decisions expire’.
Commenting on the changes, ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes noted: ‘Ensuring regulated prices are available for these services will promote competition by allowing access seekers to obtain the services on reasonable terms and conditions. Competition benefits consumers through a better choice of well-priced voice and broadband products.’
Looking ahead, the ACCC expects that an inquiry in to new FADs will take most of the coming financial year, due to the number and complexity of the pricing issues, with the regulator saying it intends to undertake extensive consultation with industry during the study. A discussion paper on the pricing issues will reportedly be released in July 2014.