Thursday, 15 October 2020 13:00

Government lays out expectations for ACCC on ‘new’ telecommunications environment Featured


Competitiveness, national security, access to services and the efficient deployment of new networks and technologies are among the priorities outlined by the Federal Gvernment in its statement of expecations given to the competition regulator, the ACCC, as part of the Commission’s oversight of Australia’s telecommunications industry.

The Statement of Expectations released by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, on Thursday emphasises the “importance of sustainable investment, domestic and international competitiveness, national security, access to services and the efficient deployment of new networks and technologies”, concerning the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s work to protect broadband and mobile consumers and encourage infrastructure investment in the telecommunications industry.

“Our telecommunications regulatory framework aims to deliver outcomes for consumers while supporting industry innovation. The ACCC has a central role in this framework,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The framework includes the use of a Statement of Expectations so that the government can clearly set out its priorities and perspectives, for the independent regulator to take account of as it goes about its work.

“This is an opportune time to issue this Statement of Expectations: the telecommunications environment has evolved significantly over recent years, including the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout nearing completion and the advancing deployment of 5G services across the country.”

The Statement deals with issues such as NBN Co’s wholesale prices, business market competition, and spectrum, and in the Statement, the Government states its preference for work to begin on changes to NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking, “having regard to a pricing model that reflects the costs of building the network and delivering a world-class broadband service”.

The ACCC has responsibility for regulating competition in the telecommunications industry under Parts XIB and XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, and is accountable to the Minister for Communications in relation to its work under these parts of the Act under the Administrative Arrangements Orders.

The Minister notes that it is common practice for Federal or State Ministers to issue a Statement of Expectations to a regulator, with the Statements generally addressing “matters such as transparency, accountability and the nature of the relationship between the regulator, government and regulated entities”.

In line with standard practice, the ACCC is expected to provide a Statement of Intent in response to the Statement of Expectations within three months.

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