news Independent telco interconnection company Megaport appears to have emerged as the victor in a landmark legal decision about whether telcos such as TPG are compelled to allow independent operators to connect infrastructure to serve customers located in their datacentres.
In January, Megaport, a telco interconnection specialist which allows datacentre customers to create connections between multiple locations and content providers, published a statement complaining that it had been blocked from accessing several datacentres owned by large telco TPG in Brisbane. The issue saw Megaport chief executive Bevan Slattery pitted against his former company PIPE Networks, now owned by TPG.
At the time, Slattery wrote that TPG’s move meant that PIPE’s datacentres could become “competition-free zones”, with TPG able to prevent PIPE’s telehousing customers from ordering services from competitive carriers such as Megaport.
“These developments are disappointing and should be a cause for concern not only for TPG/PIPE Networks colocation customers, but also AAPT customers considering TPG’s pending acquisition of AAPT,” wrote Slattery at the time. “It also raises alarm for the industry. AAPT and PIPE are the leading providers of infrastructure-based competitive wholesale services in the Australian market.”
Earlier this week, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman appeared to come to a decision on the issue.
“The TIO decision rejected every argument made by PIPE against the installation of Megaport’s infrastructure,” wrote Slattery on Megaport’s site yesterday. “Significantly, it confirmed that PIPE’s telehousing customers are regarded as “occupiers” of the building, and that Megaport can exercise its legal rights to install “in-building subscriber connection equipment” to supply them with competing services.”
The TIO decision allows Megaport to install its facilities in TPG’s 148 Brunswick St datacentre in Fortitude Valley, Queensland from 16 June 2014. Megaport expects that the TIO’s decision in relation to 127 Creek St, Brisbane will be issued shortly.
Slattery said: “The sad part of this situation is that PIPE/TPG’s position isn’t isolated and that Megaport is finding that non-independent data centre operators usually operated by carriers are attempting to frustrate Megaports entry into the market. Independent data centre operators welcome Megaport with open arms and understand the value we bring to their ecosystems.”
“It’s important for organisations that are looking for colocation to look beyond “price” and consider whether they should put their IT infrastructure in a thriving independent ecosystem or in a zombie carrier data centre – the “undead” of colocation.”
In his decision document (available online in PDF format), TIO Simon Cohen wrote that TPG’s objections to Megaport’s interjection in its datacentre were “not sustainable”, based especially on grounds that it does not appear as though Megaport’s use of the datacentre would cause a significant impact to TPG or, indeed, even take up much space.
Not really a surprising decision by the TIO. As a veteran of installing interconnection equipment in datacentres, I am sure Slattery is aware of his rights. Of course TPG would seek to use its infrastructure to constrain competition — that’s a basic for a telco as aggressive as TPG — but it’s good to see that competition can still exist to a certain degree in these types of facilities. As always, Bevan Slattery is pushing the envelope in a positive way in terms of telecommunications competition in Australia. He has never laid down in the past when faced with a challenge, and I suspect he is not going to start anytime soon ;)