If Australia Post can have national uniform pricing for postage stamps and banks can have it for ATM transaction charges, then the cross-subsidy scheme for the National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale pricing is perfectly acceptable, according to Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
At the Huawei National Digital Inclusion Summit in Canberra, Senator Conroy talked again about the Digital Economy Strategy and fielded questions on the NBN.
One of the issues Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, continues to attack is national wholesale pricing for the NBN. This is a cross-subsidy approach implemented by the Government where metropolitain areas will be charged more on a wholesale level so the NBN would be more affordable to rural and remote areas.
NBN Co will charge ISPs $20 per megabit (Mbps) per month at each of the 120 points of interconnect (PoI) across Australia and $24 for access per customer on a 12Mbps download and 1Mbps upload connection.
But Turnbull saw this as unjustly punishing metropolitan areas.
Senator Conroy emphasised the importance of affordability and accessibility of broadband for those areas that have long lived with sub-metropolitan Internet services.
He highlighted examples of uniform cross-subsidy pricing of other industries to justify that kind of approach for the NBN.
“The prices people are going to pay [for NBN services] are based on uniform national cross subsidy,” Senator Conroy said. “If it’s okay for a bank to have a uniform cross subsidy on what they charge for an ATM, that is, you pay the same transaction fee if your are in the Sydney CBD or in the back of Perth, and if its okay for Australia Post to have the same national pricing for stamps then I think it’s okay to have uniform national pricing [for the NBN]”
The cross-subsidy scheme is transparent and Senator Conroy is confident the Australian public will find it acceptable.
“Access to Government services, uniformity and ubiquity; I think the Government is moving in the right direction,” he said.
Turnbull also spoke at the conference in Canberra.
The Huawei National Digital Inclusion Summit continues.
More to follow.