Optus and the Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC) have proposed changes to NBN Co’s special access undertaking (SAU) to ease their concerns over short-term contracts for the supply of services on the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The telco and CCC have tendered a joint letter to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission raising concerns over the NBN contracts. CCC executive director, David Forman, and Optus head of regulatory affairs, Andrew Sheridan, signed off on the letter.
CCC is a telecommunications industry group representing a number of telco providers.
The WBA is a shorter commercial agreement between NBN Co and ISPs while the SAU will affect price and non-price terms of the NBN for the next 30 years. ACCC is due to make a decision on the approval of the SAU by mid-year.
While NBN Co has responded to industry criticism over the NBN agreements, Optus and the CCC are still concerned over the shortcomings of current oversight arrangements. This includes NBN Co’s ability to make decisions to set terms within the WBA by itself with limited opportunity for input by ISP customers.
Optus and CCC are demanding a greater balance of power between supplier and customer.
“This is an important threshold issue for members of the CCC and Optus in terms of the appropriate approach to setting access terms to the NBN,” according to the joint letter. “Over the course of the past year a number of suggestions have been put forward by access seekers to resolve these concerns through detailed drafting changes to the WBA, but to date none of these have been taken up by NBN Co.
Problems with the WBA can start being addressed through changes to the SAU, according to the CCC and Optus.
Firstly, there needs to be a commitment from NBN Co to engage customers concerned when it decides to set terms in individual WBAs. If there is conflict, an ACCC ruling could be sought which can then be used to amend an existing WBA.
“… [T]he members of the CCC and Optus have raised other concerns that relater to the more specific regulatory oversight arrangements set in the SAU,” the joint letter said. “The principles outlined above are not intended to address those concners but they will form the basis for a more constructive engagement on the development of the WBA between NBN Co and the industry.”
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