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Telstra 'blocking number portability for business customers'
03 Aug 2000

"Telstra's actions are blocking number portability for business customers," Cable & Wireless Optus Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs Paul Fletcher said today.

"Telstra's actions are stopping Optus from giving business customers the service and choice they want," said Mr Fletcher.

If a business customer wants to switch from Telstra to Cable & Wireless Optus but keep the same phone number, Telstra is legally required to take the necessary steps to make this happen. The requirement to provide this so-called 'complex number portability' arises under the Numbering Plan, administered by the Australian Communications Authority.

Cable & Wireless Optus has some forty customers waiting to change over from Telstra, in a process known as porting.

"Unfortunately, Telstra is trying every trick in the book to block these ports. Telstra was supposed to provide complex number portability from 30 November 1999. Telstra's first trick was to seek an exemption from the ACA - although it withdrew the exemption request when Optus protested.

"Now Telstra is trying its second trick - delay, cost and arbitrary administrative requirements," Mr Fletcher said.

Optus recently requested that Telstra port its second customer (of the forty in the queue.) Telstra demanded $1,000 for a feasibility study for the business wishing to port and said it would take 11 weeks to port the lines to Optus. Imposing this charge breaches a 1999 decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that each carrier should bear its own costs of porting.

"Telstra also says that in future it will need details of customers Optus wishes to port 12-18 months in advance, and it will take a further four to six months before the port is achieved.

"Telstra claims it needs the advance notice to do traffic forecasts - but the customers it is forecasting are already on its network and Telstra knows exactly how much traffic they generate!

"It is astounding that after all the work done by the ACA and ACCC on this issue, Telstra is flouting its regulatory obligations.

"Optus has referred this matter to the Australian Communications Authority and we are confident that the ACA will take action," Mr Fletcher said.

For more information:
Stephen Woodhill
Cable & Wireless Optus
Phone: 02 9342 7850