ACCC role in communications

The ACCC is responsible for the economic regulation of the communications sector, including telecommunications and the National Broadband Network (NBN), broadcasting and content sectors.

Competition and access functions

The ACCC performs industry-specific competition and access functions under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It also has functions under other industry-specific legislation.

These functions are aimed at promoting competition, remedying market failure, enabling access to essential infrastructure, and protecting consumers in these sectors.

Among other things, our work includes:

  • assessing and enforcing terms of access to the NBN in a special access undertaking (SAU) from NBN Co
  • assessing and enforcing Telstra’s structural separation undertaking (SSU) and plan to migrate its customers to the NBN
  • setting wholesale prices and wholesale terms of access for declared services
  • monitoring and reporting on prices and competition in the communications sector
  • investigating claims of anti-competitive conduct in the communications sector.

National Broadband Network

The ACCC has a number of responsibilities regarding the National Broadband Network (NBN) under Part XIC of the Act. We assess special access undertakings and make access determinations about the terms and conditions of access to services on the NBN. We also publish explanatory material about the non-discrimination obligations that apply to NBN Co and provide advice on the locations of the NBN points of interconnection.

National Broadband Network

Telstra's structural separation undertaking (SSU)

In late 2010, new legislation reformed the communications industry by introducing a framework for the structural separation of Telstra and migration of Telstra’s fixed line access services to the National Broadband Network.

Industry reform

Declaration of a service

Part XIC of the Act allows the ACCC to declare a carriage service, or service that facilitates the supply of a carriage service. Once a service is declared, an access seeker can then obtain access to that service. There is no general right of access without declaration.

See: Guideline for Part XIC declaration provisions for telecommunication services

Pricing and terms of access for declared services

The ACCC is required to set default prices and other terms and conditions of access to declared services. Companies that supply declared services must lodge copies of their access agreements with the ACCC.

Access agreement reporting requirements
Broadcasting & content
Mobile services
Fixed line services
Transmission services & facilities access

Monitoring and reporting

The ACCC collects a range of information from telecommunications companies to monitor competition, market developments and inform its decisions. The Minister can also require the ACCC to monitor and report on various aspects of competition within the industry. In addition, the ACCC reports to the Minster on Telstra’s compliance with retail price controls imposed by the Minister.

Monitoring & reporting
Telstra retail price control arrangements

Anti-competitive conduct in the communications sector

The ACCC monitors and enforces compliance with a range of telecommunications-specific legislation, as well as the general consumer protection and anti-competitive conduct provisions in the Act. The ACCC has published information about its approach to specific issues such as broadband performance claims.

Anti-competitive conduct & industry compliance
Reporting requirements for suppliers of certain superfast carriage services

Intellectual property

The ACCC has a number of specific roles in relation to intellectual property, and copyright specifically, arising in the context of:

  • assessing applications for authorisation and notifications
  • issuing guidelines to assist the Copyright Tribunal, and participants in Copyright Tribunal proceedings, in the determination of copyright remuneration
  • participating in Copyright Tribunal proceedings
  • assessing competition issues that arise in markets that deal in intellectual property (i.e. content markets).

The ACCC also has an ongoing interest in intellectual property issues as part of its role in monitoring competition in the market.

Intellectual property

Liaison with other bodies

The ACCC regularly interacts with other telecommunications bodies including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), Communications Compliance, and Communications Alliance. This liaison helps to promote shared learning and a cohesive response to consumer and competition challenges.

In April 2020 the ACCC entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the TIO. The MOU reinforces the cooperative approach the agencies have been taking to address telecommunications complaints, systemic issues and potential areas for ACCC enforcement and compliance action.

MOU between TIO and the ACCC ( PDF 672.43 KB )

In January 2014 the ACCC entered into a five year MOU with Communications Compliance. The MOU allowed the sharing of information related to industry compliance with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code and the Australian Consumer Law.

MOU between Communications Compliance and the ACCC ( PDF 1.21 MB | DOCX 32.21 KB )

Consumer friendly fact sheets

The ACCC has prepared a number of fact sheets for consumers that describe in simple, non technical language how the ACCC sets rules for the supply of telecommunications services:

Consumer fact sheets for telecommunications services

Submissions by the ACCC

On occasion, the ACCC provides submissions to external telecommunications consultation processes:

Submissions by the ACCC

Subscribe to the Communications Information Network

To keep up with the latest ACCC regulatory news and events relevant to the communications sector, sign up to our Communications Information Network.