The Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC) has claimed Telstra “discriminate against consumers trying to buy broadband from competitors by incorrectly claiming their telephone lines were unable to provide a service.”
The coalition says Telstra applies less stringent tests when its own retail arm seeks access. ““As a result, consumers were told they could not get broadband from a competitor, but told they could get it from Telstra,” a CCC spokesentity told The Reg.
The CCC has sent The Register an email it says comes from Telstra wholesale and which reads, in part, as follows:
“We are . writing to advise that a potential issue with the ‘Excess Transmission Loss’ result in our Service Qualification (SQ) systems and processes for the provisioning of Wholesale ADSL and LSS services has been identified, following a complaint by a Wholesale Customer.”
“ … there is the potential for some limited instances where Telstra Retail may have been able to supply an ADSL service where Telstra Wholesale requests have shown that the ADSL or LSS service is unavailable as the current path for the PSTN service suffers from excessive transmission loss.”
“Our investigations into the scope and scale of this issue are continuing. However, we believe the instances in which this has occurred are low.”
The letter says Telstra has notified the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), as the issue could mean Telstra is in breach of regulations and obligations.
Also in the Telstra email, group executive Stuart Lee advises retail customers of Telstra Wholesale that the company is working on a fix but that it is expected to require six months' work.
The CCC isn't happy with that timeframe and has called on the ACCC to force Telstra to rectify the situation “quickly”.
The CCC's statement all-but-accuses Telstra of deliberate skulduggery: the document's title is “Telstra Finally Admits Systematic Broadband Unfairness”. On our reading of the Telstra statement, it admits no such thing. Instead it admits an error that disadvantaged rivals. Perhaps too conveniently.
Whatever the source of the fault, the CCC's call for “genuine structural separation” of the national broadband network seems more sensible than ever.