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ACCC happy with competition level in NBN aggregation

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(Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will not demand that dark fibre and National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale aggregation service providers hand over pricing and supply data, after saying on Thursday it was happy with the level of competition.

“The ACCC considers that competition in the market for NBN aggregation services is developing as the NBN rollout continues, and that this has largely addressed customer concerns,” the watchdog said in a statement.

Such services are used by smaller NBN retailers to reach customers where they do not own infrastructure. Alongside dark fibre and NBN aggregators, the Commission added that other alternatives are available, such as NBN’s virtual network-network interface product.

“We have seen significant recent developments in this market, including the entry of more providers, a bigger variety of products, and more reliable passing through of NBN price discounts and product launches to wholesale customers,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

Under the proposed rules, dark fibre providers and NBN aggregators would have had to report quarterly on the supply and price of services.

Earlier this month, the ACCC decided to oppose the merger between TPG and Vodafone Australia.

The Commission said it believed the merger would substantially lessen competition, and that TPG had the commercial incentive to roll out a mobile network.

“TPG is the best prospect Australia has for a new mobile network operator to enter the market, and this is likely the last chance we have for stronger competition in the supply of mobile services,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“Wherever possible, market structures should be settled by the competitive process, not by a merger which results in a market structure that would be subject to little challenge in the future. This is particularly the case in concentrated sectors, such as mobile services in Australia.”

In response, Vodafone Australia and TPG are heading to Federal Court for a merger approval.

The ACCC’s record in opposing mergers is far from spotless, and on Wednesday had its proceedings to prevent a merger between Pacific National and Aurizon rail companies be dismissed in Federal Court.

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The search giant believes that if the consumer watchdog holds any particular concerns, it is welcome to investigate under existing Australian law.

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Toyota lowers production goals by 15 percent for November

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The global chip shortage is impacting automakers significantly. This week, Toyota announced that it plans to cut its global production output by 15 percent in November. The reduced production is laid directly at the feet of the shortage of microprocessors needed to build modern vehicles.

Despite chopping production in November, Toyota says it is still sticking to its planned production goals for the entirety of 2021. The company has said that it plans to ramp up production in December. Toyota is the largest automaker in Japan and also builds some of its vehicles in the US.

Toyota was also forced to reduce production in September and October due to the chip shortage and other issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. For the year through March 31, Toyota reduced its production goals to 9 million vehicles representing a reduction of 300,000 units. In addition, the pandemic has significantly impacted components required to build its vehicles sourced from Malaysia and Vietnam.

Toyota says that a decline in COVID-19 infection rates in southeast Asia will allow chip manufacturers to increase output for the remainder of the year. Toyota wasn’t as impacted as some automakers by the chip shortage and pandemic because it had a stockpile of components allowing it to continue manufacturing operations.

The automaker has asked its component suppliers in southeast Asia to boost its allotment of chips and other components in December to allow it to ramp production significantly and meet its goals. Toyota spokesperson has stated that the total loss production for the automaker between September and November will be as high as 910,000 vehicles. In North America specifically, the reduced production in November will mean between 45,000 and 55,000 fewer vehicles produced.

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Porsche deliveries climb significantly despite chip shortage

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The global chip shortage impacts most automakers and has resulted in reduced shipments and production stoppages. While most automakers are seeing their deliveries decline, Porsche has seen deliveries increased by 13 percent in the first three quarters between January and September 2021. Porsche says it has delivered 217,198 vehicles around the globe.

The automaker notes that demand for its vehicles rose across all sales regions, but increased demand was particularly strong in the US. While deliveries have increased for Porsche, the automaker still says the coronavirus situation is dynamic, and it is facing challenges in procuring semiconductors. The most popular model for Porsche is the Cayenne, with deliveries of 62,451 units.

Porsche’s second most popular model was the Macan delivering 61,944 units, working out to a 12 percent increase in deliveries for that model. Its third most popular model may be a surprise to some. The electric Taycan sports car delivered 28,640 units to customers. 2021 is only the second year that model has been available, and it’s already surpassed deliveries of the iconic 911. So far, the 911 has delivered 27,972 units in the first three quarters of the year, which represents a 10 percent increase.

Porsche says the 718 Boxster and the 718 Cayman delivered 15,916 units. The four-door Porsche Panamera remains popular, delivering 20,275 units. In the US, Porsche says it delivered 51,615 vehicles in the first nine months of 2021. Those numbers represent a 30 percent increase compared to deliveries made during 2020. Across the entirety of the American continent, Porsche delivered 63,025 vehicles for a 29 percent increase compared to last year.

Interestingly, the largest single market for Porsche is China, with 69,789 vehicles delivered, representing an 11 percent gain compared to 2020. In addition, Porsche delivered 56,332 vehicles across Europe.

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AAA study finds vehicle safety systems are negatively impacted by rain

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Researchers from AAA have published a new study looking at how moderate to heavy rain affects the ability of modern vehicle safety systems to function. AAA conducted testing in a closed course environment simulating rainfall and discovered that test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking they were traveling at 35 mph collided with stopped vehicles 33 percent of the time during rain. Other vehicle safety features were also impacted during rain.

Other tested features include lane keeping assist, which allowed the vehicle to depart their lane 69 percent of the time during grade. AAA says that vehicle safety systems called advanced driver assistance systems are typically tested in ideal conditions. AAA believes testing standards need to be changed to incorporate real-world conditions that drivers would typically encounter.

Safety systems rely on cameras and sensors to visualize markings on the road, cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles. AAA’s Greg Brannon says people don’t always drive around in perfect sunny weather and test methods need to be changed to take real-world conditions into account. AAA says its research found rain had the biggest effect on vehicle safety systems.

However, they also stimulated other environmental conditions, including bug impacts and dirt. The results found that driving in simulated moderate to heavy rain impacted both safety systems. Automatic emergency braking engaged while approaching a stopped vehicle in the lane ahead at 25 mph but resulted in collision 17 percent of the time.

When speeds were increased to 35 mph, collisions occurred 33 percent of the time. Overall, during testing, lane keeping assist veered outside of lane markers 69 percent of the time. Researchers said that when testing systems with a simulated dirty window stamped with a concentration of bugs, dirt, and water, only minor differences in performance were noted. However, cameras can be influenced by a dirty windshield, and AAA says it’s important that drivers keep the windshield clean.

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