The Australian government has issued a new carrier licence condition declaration for owners of superfast fixed line broadband networks targeting residential customers.
The announcement follows a deal struck between NBN Co and two of the nation’s largest telecommunications providers Optus and Telstra to acquire portions of the two telco’s HFC and copper network infrastructure.
The Carrier Licence Conditions Declaration 2014 requires affected carriers to offer wholesale services on a non-discriminatory basis and to functionally separate their wholesale and retail businesses.
The Government said the new rules are designed to support fairer and more effective retail competition by ensuring competing service providers can access new residential broadband networks and provide alternative offerings.
The Government claims competition will give residential consumers choice about who they want as their Internet retailer and creates the conditions for reduced prices, better service standards and greater innovation in services being offered.
It is claimed the new rules are not intended to stop private sector investment in new infrastructure. The government claims they will ensure that infrastructure operates in a manner encouraging service-level competition among retailers, particularly where there is a single infrastructure provider.
To assist transition to the new arrangements, from 1 January 2015 carriers who operate such access lines will only need to offer wholesale services on a non-discriminatory basis.
From that time, affected carriers will need to have separate wholesale and retail companies with separate directors, management, staff and operational support systems. The wholesale company will have to supply services to other service providers on the same terms, including price, that it supplies them to its own retail company.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will monitor compliance with the new rules.
The government said the rules don’t affect the supply of services to existing customers.
As part of its response to the Vertigan Review, the Government announced that, beginning in 2017, new high-speed broadband networks will be required to be structurally separated. The ACCC will be able to authorise functional separation. The measures in the declaration are the first step in the transition to the new rules.
The Government said the declaration has been finalised after extensive consultation with industry. It said it wrote to all carriers in October 2014, giving them 30 days to provide their views. The draft was also published online for public comment. Eighteen submissions were received on the draft.