2. Access through a voluntary undertaking
A second way to seek access to infrastructure services is through a voluntary undertaking approved by the ACCC.
About access undertakings
Undertakings allow infrastructure owners and operators to give other parties access to their services, on a voluntary basis.
While a voluntary undertaking is in force, the service cannot be declared.
An access undertaking covers a range of matters about access to a particular service. It often includes the:
- terms and conditions under which the provider is willing to offer access
- price for the service
- dispute resolution processes if parties can’t agree.
Section 44ZZA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 sets out:
- the rules when an undertaking is eligible or ineligible
- the matters that the ACCC must consider in accepting an undertaking.
The ACCC assesses applications for new undertakings
We assess applications put forward by owners and operators of infrastructure facilities.
The process we use to consider a new undertaking depends on its circumstances, characteristics and how complex it is. The process often involves inviting public submissions.
Time limits to make a decision
There are time limits for the ACCC to make decisions on access undertakings. These are set out in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
We must make a decision on an access undertaking application within 180 days of receiving the application.
Certain periods of time are not counted when calculating the 180-day period. This occurs when the ACCC:
- and the access provider agree to stop the clock
- gives a notice requesting further information on the application
- publishes a notice inviting public submissions on an application, or
- publishes a decision to defer the process while the ACCC arbitrates an access dispute.
If we don't publish a decision on the undertaking within the 180-day period (or longer if the clock has stopped), the application is rejected.
Types of services with access undertakings
The ACCC has accepted access undertakings for:
Separately, Part XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 deals with telecommunications access matters.
The Australian Energy Regulator, under electricity and gas laws, deals with energy matters.