Aussie plan to time-charge Net providers' local calls vetoed

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The Federal Government has vetoed efforts by Australia's telecommunications giant Telstra to introduce timed-charged local calls for Internet providers. At present all local calls, including faxes and modems, cost about 20c (25c from callboxes) regardless of the length of the call.

The government was not persuaded by Telstra's argument that Web surfers needed to be time-charged for Internet calls to cut usage and to prevent major congestion on the country's telephony networks.

The thumbs-down comes in a 600-page Telecommunications Bill to be debated by the Senate mid-month. One substantial and contentious issue still to be resolved is the current practice of both Telstra and its rival Optus Communications to string much of their pay-TV cable above ground. Another is the siting of mobile satellite phone towers near residential areas.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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