July 28, 2010
TELSTRA has been fined $18.5 million for illegally blocking broadband competitors from using its local exchanges.
The corporate watchdog had pushed for a $40 million fine for the breaches, which occurred between January 2006 and February 2008, but Justice John Middleton believed the telco's conduct was not deliberately anti-competitive.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had taken Telstra to the Federal Court of Australia for refusing competitors access 27 times to installing ADSL equipment at seven exchanges around Australia.
Justice Middleton said Telstra's relevant managers and employees who denied the access were either not properly trained in regard to access obligations or failed to comply with their training.
He said Telstra had no adequate system in place to check on compliance.
``In most cases Telstra staff did not understand their responsibilities or roles within Telstra,'' Justice Middleton said.
He also said Telstra had shown no remorse during the proceedings.
``I am not satisfied, however, that Telstra has demonstrated any remorse, nor that it appreciates the seriousness of its conduct,'' he said.
A Telstra spokeswoman said the telco had acknowledged mistakes were made and will not be appealing the decision.
``Since these events occurred, Telstra has taken proactive steps to improve our processes in this area, and more generally, to improve service to our wholesale customers,'' the spokeswoman said.
``We have learned a lot as a result of this process and like many changes at Telstra, we are endeavouring to improve our performance.
``Since the start of the case, we have acknowledged that mistakes were made. We accept the judgment which has been handed down - we will not be appealing.''