GFOA claims NBN Co exploited greenfield fibre operators

GFOA claims NBN Co exploited greenfield fibre operators

Accusations of NBN Co's alleged anti-competitive behaviour was raised by Greenfield Fibre Operators of Australia (GFOA) at an NBN parliamentary hearing

Greenfield Fibre Operators in Australia (GFOA) has accused NBN Co of milking its member’s knowledge and expertise before unceremoniously dumping them in favour of Fujitsu for the National Broadband Network (NBN) deployment to greenfield estates.

GFOA members include OPENetworks, Service Elements, TransACT, Comverge, Broadcast Engineering Services Australia and Pivit.

The group consists of six out of 10 companies approached by NBN Co to be part of its fibre networks panel of experts for the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout to new development sites, according to GFOA.

The panel idea was shelved in favour of a single supplier model. Fujitsu was appointed to deploy fibre to new estates on behalf of NBN Co.

Speaking at the Joint Committee on the NBN in Sydney, GFOA chair and OPENetworks managing director, Michael Sparksman, accused NBN Co of wading into a perfectly competitive market and stunting the growth of existing greenfield fibre operators.

As it stands, developers can wait for the NBN to rollout fibre to new sites free of charge or pay fibre companies to do the job swiftly but at a cost. This can potentially put GFOA members out of business.

Sparksman accused NBN Co of playing dirty as the government-funded organisation had already received commercially sensitive data from GFOA members as they were under the impression they would be favoured for greenfield fibre installations.

“It was our expertise and experience that was in fact the most valuable to NBN Co when last Friday it decided to close down the expert panel because the company had obtained what it thought was all our prices and all of our intellectual property and decided it was a good idea to go with our sub-contractor [Fujitsu],” he said.

Under the proposed Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Fibre Deployment) Bill 2011, NBN Co should be the “fibre provider of last resort in new developments”. GFOA argued the company is presenting itself as the first resort provider, much to the chagrin of existing greenfield fibre players.

OPENetworks is considering lodging a complaint to the ACCC over NBN Co’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the greenfield market.

It has already met with the Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office regarding the issue.

The Joint Committee on the NBN is expected to release its findings in June.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @spandaslui

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Tags NBNTransActNational Broadband Network (NBN)ComvergeBroadcast Engineering Services AustraliaGreenfield Fibre Operators in Australia (GFOA)OPENetworksTelecommunications Legislation Amendment (Fibre Deployment) Bill 2011

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