NBN Co has responded to concerns raised by a number of telcos on its special access undertaking (SAU) currently under the consideration of the Australian Communications and Consumers Commission (ACCC).
In January, telcos and ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), iiNet and Internode aired their thoughts regarding the perceived lack of power the ACCC would have over the National Broadband Network (NBN) under the SAU.
The SAU dictates the price and non-price terms of the NBN for the next 30 years while the wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) sets out commercial terms between NBN Co and wholesale customers over a shorter period of time.
Telcos were concerned the WBA’s terms, which ACCC has hand in, can override the terms and conditions set in the SAU. The ACCC is granted certain powers under the SAU only.
In its submission to the ACCC, NBN Co deemed its SAU, coupled with the WBA, is adequate in addressing “the interest of access seekers, their end-users and NBN Co”.
“The SAU and the WBA have been drafted so they are complementary, capable of operating together… and are designed to ensure visibility and oversight of NBN Co’s activities by the ACCC in the manner contemplated by legislation,” NBN Co said. “[It also preserves] flexibility to innovate and adapt as technology and customer needs change over the longer term.”
But the company acknowledged the function of the WBA and how it will work with the SAU is should be considered and discussed further with more in-depth explanation provided to the telco industry.
NBN Co disputed claims by telcos the SAU places restrictions on ACCC’s powers to regulate access to the NBN.
“In fact, the SAU does quite the opposite,” NBN Co said. “The powers conferred on the ACCC by the SAU are in addition to the existing powers the ACCC has under the [Competitions and Consumers Act 2010].
NBN Co argued the SAU does not remove existing powers of the ACCC and provides “additional safeguards for access seekers”. It concluded in-built review measures in the SAU adds another layer of control for the ACCC.
The company also noted some changes to the WBA are still subject to regulatory oversight of the consumer watchdog.
The ACCC is expected to make a decision on whether to approve the NBN Co SAU by mid-year.