Telstra to address competition concerns over Optus’ 5G roll-out

Australian telecoms firm Telstra Corp (TLS.AX) will address competition concerns by de-registering some radio-communications sites that interfered with Optus’ plans to roll out its 5G network, the country’s competition regulator said on Wednesday.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was concerned about Telstra’s registration of radio-communications sites in a low-band spectrum, which is likely to have hindered Optus, the local unit of Singapore’s Singtel , from deploying its 5G network in Australia.

“We do not agree with the ACCC’s views that this was potentially anticompetitive,” a Telstra spokesperson said, adding, they have filed to de-register several sites citing a potentially drawn out case that could be expensive and time-consuming.

Telstra will continue to use equipment and sites in areas where Optus is not rolling out, the spokesperson said.

Telstra holds licences for parts of a low-band spectrum of 900 megahertz, which expire in June 2024. Such low-band spectrums have the ability to transmit over greater distances and are crucial for the roll out of a 5G network.

“Telstra’s undertaking will ensure Optus is not hindered from expanding its 5G rollout, giving more Australians access to a choice of 5G services in regional and metropolitan Australia,” ACCC commissioner Liza Carver said.

In January, Telstra registered 315 sites in the 900 megahertz band spectrum after it became aware of Optus’ intention to apply for early access to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the ACCC said.

So far, Telstra has de-registered 153 of these sites.

The regulator said that since the registration, Telstra has used only a limited number of these sites to deploy 3G services. Telstra said that they moved 3G traffic onto the 900 MHz spectrum to relieve congestion.

The telecom firm is now required to de-register sites it registered in January that would have prevented Optus from gaining early access to the spectrum.

“We are pleased with the actions taken by the ACCC to promote 5G competition for Australia‚Äôs consumers and businesses,” said Andrew Sheridan, vice-president for regulatory and public affairs at Optus.