At least two local telcos are yet to agree to NBN Co’s latest wholesale broadband agreement (WBA), with Macquarie Telecom and Symbio Networks holding off on signing up to the new reseller agreement.
The wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) is the contractual vehicle that NBN Co, the company behind the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, uses to supply products and services to its direct wholesale customers.
NBN Co released the latest version of its wholesale broadband agreement, known as WBA3, on 17 November, following more than two years of negotiations with telcos and network retail service providers (RSPs).
A spokesperson for NBN Co told ARN at the time that the updated agreement with phone and internet providers is designed to improve the quality and timeliness of the wholesale services it offers.
“The Wholesale Broadband Agreement 3 (WBA3) requires NBN Co to meet enhanced service performance commitments for activations and fault restoration that will help further improve the experience of consumers on the [NBN] access network,” the spokesperson said.
“WBA3 is the result of more than two years of negotiations and discussions with our customers, the phone and internet providers.
“The agreement, which offers more than 50 significant, customer-friendly changes, reflects feedback from providers on how we can deliver better experiences on the network,” NBN Co said.
The release of the WBA3 arrived after increased scrutiny by the public and other stakeholders over issues associated with some NBN services delivered by RSPs, many of them related to the network speeds to available to consumers.
While most of NBN Co’s largest wholesale customers have already signed up to the new agreement, the company's chief executive, Bill Morrow, has revealed that there are at least two direct NBN RSPs yet to agree to the new deal: Macquarie Telecom (ASX:MAQ) and Symbio Networks.
“Macquarie and Symbio have not signed the WBA3,” Morrow said during a Senate Estimates hearing on 23 November.
At the same time, Morrow noted that the large telcos comprising roughly 95 per cent of NBN Co’s wholesale customers, Telstra (ASX:TLS), Optus, Vocus (ASX:VOC) and TPG (ASX:TPM) and its subsidiaries, have all signed up to the WBA3.
“Macquarie and Symbio…would be a tiny fraction of our customers,” Morrow said, adding that NBN Co is still in discussions with the two telecommunications providers to potentially get them over the line.
“These are good people, and we talk to them, we try to explain what they’re asking for and whether it’s reasonable or not, and why we have the agreement set up the way it is,” Morrow said. “And, I’m confident that something will likely be reached with them, and if they choose to go down a different path, they don’t rely on NBN very much at all.
“It’s a very low number [of NBN services] that they had, so if they choose to go down a different path, that’s their prerogative,” he said.
Of the two telcos named by Morrow, Symbio has confirmed it is still in the process of coming to an arrangement that will see it maintain its wholesale relationship with NBN Co, which would require it to sign up to the new agreement.
"We are currently in discussion with NBN [Co] and intend to continue our direct arrangement with them," a Symbio spokesperson said.
Likewise, ARN understands that Macquarie Telecom has sought clarification of supply conditions from NBN Co, which has indicated it will likely respond to Macquarie by the end of this week, at which point it will consider signing the new WBA3.
It is understood that there are currently more than 180 RSPs around Australia providing NBN services to end customers, 42 of which are direct NBN wholesale customers, the rest of which obtain NBN services via the larger network aggregators.
The RSPs that obtain NBN services for their end customers via the network's direct wholesale aggregators are not required to sign the wholesale agreement with NBN Co.
Indeed, an NBN Co spokesperson told ARN that ACN Pacific and Orion Satellite Systems have also decided not to sign the WBA3 and are instead using an aggregator. The company claims many non-direct retail customers in this category who all have access to NBN Co information without having to become direct customers of the network provider.
The WBA3 documentation can be found here.
This article was updated at 7:42 PM on 23 November to include comment from NBN Co and Symbio Networks.