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​Aussie watchdog opens up superfast broadband networks to competition

​Aussie watchdog opens up superfast broadband networks to competition

ACCC to regulate access to wholesale superfast broadband services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will regulate access to wholesale superfast broadband services, declaring a five-year ‘superfast broadband access service’ (SBAS).

According to the Australian watchdog, the SBAS declaration allows retailers to access non-NBN network services with a downstream data rate normally more than 25 Mbps, which includes the fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) network operated by TPG subsidiary AAPT, and Telstra’s fibre networks in South Brisbane and Velocity estates.

“This is an acknowledgment that all superfast broadband networks, regardless of their size display natural monopoly characteristics,” ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said.

“What this access declaration does is provide retailers with the opportunity to enter superfast broadband markets, and in turn increase competition.

“This decision will also help to simplify and clarify the existing regulations that apply to superfast broadband services, allowing all retail providers to compete on their relative merits, regardless of the technology used, when the network was constructed, or who operates it.

“Importantly, this will benefit consumers in the long term because it means greater competition between retail providers, and more choice, can now occur.”

Sims said the announcement of the SBAS declaration of service has triggered a public inquiry into the price and non-price terms of access that should apply to the SBAS.

According to Sims, the ACCC has set interim price and non-price terms and conditions to apply for the next 12 months while it completes this inquiry.

“Interim prices for entry level services are benchmarked to existing regulated prices for similar superfast broadband services on the NBN and other networks,” he outlined.

In setting interim terms and conditions the ACCC has had regard to concerns about the regulatory burden for smaller providers and exempted those superfast broadband operators supplying less than 20,000 customers.

During the inquiry, Sims said the ACCC “will look closely” at the likely compliance costs for these operators, being mindful of the price benefits competition can bring to consumers.

In addition, Sims said the TransACT/iiNet VDSL network and the HFC network in regional Victoria (all owned by TPG) will also be exempt in the interim, to allow sufficient time for these networks to be reconfigured to supply an SBAS product.

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