[business week] Australia's largest telephone company was fined 18.5 million Australian dollars ($16.6 million) Wednesday for blocking broadband Internet competitors from using its local exchanges.
Telstra was taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for breaches that occurred between January 2006 and February 2008.
Once a government owned monopoly, the company controls Australia's only nationwide copper wire telephone network. In many areas, competitors need to install equipment in Telstra's telephone exchanges to be able to offer Internet services that piggyback on the copper wires.
The corporate watchdog had demanded a AU$40 million fine. But Justice John Middleton of the Federal Court of Australia ruled that Telstra had not been deliberately anticompetitive.
He said those employees who denied the access were either not properly trained about access obligations or failed to comply with their training.
"In most cases Telstra staff did not understand their responsibilities or roles within Telstra," Middleton said. "I am not satisfied, however, that Telstra has demonstrated any remorse, nor that it appreciates the seriousness of its conduct."
Telstra admitted to 27 breaches of the Telecommunications Act during the court case.
Australian telco fined for blocking competition