ISPs may be up in arms about National Broadband Network (NBN) anti-cherry-picking provisions but a Senate Committee report claims some of their concerns are “overstated”.
Cherry-picking refers to ISPs implementing their own high-speed networks to undercut the NBN Co in high-density areas prior to the NBN’s rollout. These ISPs can afford to charge less for their services than NBN Co because they don’t need to subsidise the rollout of a network in low-density and higher-cost regional locations.
Rules to prevent cherry-picking were introduced to parliament in the form of the NBN Access Bill last year. The prohibitions were the topic of an NBN Senate inquiry in February.
ISPs have collectively lambasted proposed rules claiming the provisions exercise too much control over carriers and could impede on simple upgrades on existing networks.
In a Senate enquiry report, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee acknowledged complaints from ISPs.
“However, the committee notes some concerns have been overstated as the requirements do not prevent other companies from rolling out fibre networks,” the group said.
The provisions do not compel ISPs to match NBN Co’s operations, terms and conditions but they do require carriers to “operate within a comparable regulatory framework” which will benefit end-users, the committee claimed.
The group deemed it necessary to prevent ISPs from cherry-picking otherwise NBN Co would fail to deliver affordable high-speed services across the board.
But the committee did want to see more clarity provided to ISPs by the Government on the details surrounding anti-cherry-picking laws.
“Given the degree of uncertainty perceived by submitters [to the inquiry] – in particular in relation to the circumstances in which these provisions apply – the committee would expect the government will be able to give more certainty to operators of the level playing-field provisions.
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