Telstra has been ordered to deregister more than 150 broadcasting sites under an enforceable court order, after Australia’s consumer watchdog raised concerns that the company was “blocking” the launch of a rival 5G carrier.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a lengthy investigation after concerns about the telecom giant’s registration of 315 low-band radio communication sites in January.
Low-band spectrum, such as 900MHz, can be transmitted over larger distances and is used by mobile network operators to provide coverage and capacity.
The ACCC investigation raised concerns that Telstra’s regulation of 315 sites could “impede” or prevent rival Optus from deploying its 5G network, thus preventing it from engaging in competitive behaviour.
Under the court’s pledge, Telstra is now required to deregister all remaining radiocommunication sites registered in the 900MHz band.
The company has a license for parts of the 900MHz bandwidth through June 2024.
But until January Telstra was using spectrum sparingly and had not registered a new site since 2016.
Optus has successfully submitted bids for licenses in the low bandwidth following the auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in December last year.
Telstra then registered another 315 low-band radio communication sites.
They later de-registered 153, with 162 remaining registered.
This pledge, approved by the ACCC, requires Telstra to deregister all remaining radiocommunication sites it registered with ACMA in the 900MHz spectrum band in January 2022 which would have prevented Optus from having early access to spectrum.
ACCC chair Lisa Carver said the pledge means more Australians in regional and urban areas will have access to a range of 5G services.
“This is critical as 5G network coverage becomes an increasingly important factor in consumer choice in mobile and mobile plans,” she said.
“Competition is key to driving innovation, investing in new technology, and providing consumers with greater choice, better quality services, and lower prices.”
The new court order comes after Telstra announced that it will return all of its call centers to Australia following continued consumer demand.
“What we’ve heard loud and clear is that you want to change the way we’ve answered our calls, so we’ve done it,” CEO Andrew Penn said last month.
Originally published as Telstra slapped with enforceable court order after accusations of ‘obstructing’ Telco’s 5G competitor’s rollout