NBN Co has hit back at recent criticism suggesting it “overreached” itself by going directly after business consumers with enterprise broadband deals.
The head of NBN Co’s enterprise division Paul Tyler has defended the wholesale broadband network provider against recent comments made by Telstra chairman John Mullen, who called its push into the telco's territory “problematic” and outside its mandate.
"It seems inequitable that the NBN can now move outside its mandate and sell directly to our customers, but RSPs have to stay within their mandate and cannot sell to the NBN’s own protected market in return, due to regulations which prevent retail providers investing in fixed line infrastructure to provide consumer services," Mullen said during the telco’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) this week.
He also claimed it was a "waste of collective resources" for NBN Co to focus investment in the enterprise market instead of on the consumer roll-out.
His comments echoed those made by Vocus CEO Kevin Russell who meanwhile argued it was “not economically efficient” for NBN Co to promotes its own infrastructure over and that it had “long-term implications for the enterprise market”.
However, in a blog post published on 16 October, Tyler claimed NBN Co was not “overstepping the mark” by going after business clients, saying the “criticisms could not be more wrong”.
Citing the network’s original mandate from May 2010, which “clearly articulates” NBN Co’s role providing enterprise broadband, Tyler argued the provider is able to “compete and innovate like other companies”.
He also hit back against criticism that by being a Government Business Enterprise (GBE), NBN Co was “unfairly” using its position to win business from other infrastructure owners.
“It’s worth reiterating that NBN Co is an open, wholesale, access-only infrastructure provider,” Tyler wrote.
“We exist to serve not just homes with residential services, but also businesses with enterprise-grade solutions – no matter where, and no matter the size of the organisation.
“NBN Co’s activity in the enterprise space is not about entrenching this status quo where the same vertically integrated businesses traditionally win the same customers. It’s about opening up the market for all players – both existing and new, small and large, so better service and competition can thrive.”
Tyler also addressed a recent report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accusing NBN Co of giving materially different commercial terms to different RSPs as well as preferential treatment to Macquarie Telecom.
“NBN Co is also accused of overstepping the mark as a wholesaler,” Tyler said. "Despite mischievous claims to the contrary, NBN Co does not recommend retailers nor provide sales leads. NBN Co is not involved in setting retail prices or terms and does not require exclusive use of NBN Co infrastructure. Those arrangements are struck directly between end users and their chosen retailer(s)."