NBN Co has caved to industry pressure over its sales activities with enterprise customers announcing it will stop contracting directly with end users.
The decision will no doubt be welcomed by the retail service provider (RSP) industry, which has engaged in a public battle with the broadband provider over behaviour they see as encroaching on their territory.
NBN Co said it will continue to engage with customers to “educate and stimulate demand for NBN wholesale services”, but RSPs will have the entire direct contractual relationship.
The provider has faced heavy industry push back over recent months. Vocus, Telstra and TPG, in particular have been vocal on the issue, with the former attacking NBN Co’s channel sale program this week.
Macquarie Telecom has already issued a statement calling RSPs’ push for a full exit “self-preservation and a desire to push their own fibre rather than the interest of Australian businesses”.
“Macquarie Telecom welcomes the decision by NBN Co to avoid direct enterprise deals while continuing to educate corporate customers on the benefits of using NBN in conjunction with RSPs,” CEO Luke Clifton said.
Clifton’s comments may not come as a surprise to some following the news that NBN Co gave MacTel preferential commercial terms and pricing information ahead of its rivals.
Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), issued a formal warning to NBN Co for discriminatory activity.
NBN Co said it now plans to release a telecommunications consultation paper “on how any sales leads or inbound interest should best be shared with the industry on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis”. The paper is expected to be published February 5.
“These changes will deliver greater collaboration between NBN Co and RSPs by ensuring that together, the Industry is in the best position to deliver tailored broadband services that enterprise customers need to succeed,” the company’s chief customer officer Paul Tyler said in a statement.
Tyler had earlier argued that NBN Co was not “overstepping the mark” by going after business clients, claiming the criticism it was facing “could not be more wrong”.
A spokesman for the company added that there were "only" 19 people in the industry engagement team, who will remain in their roles "without contracting directly with enterprise customers to build connectivity".
Vocus CEO Kevin Russell has also issued a statement praising the decision, saying: "These changes re-affirm the fundamental role of infrastructure investment and competition in delivering the best outcomes for consumers.
"When NBN operates within its wholesale-only remit, it can play a positive role in the enterprise market: It can improve connectivity in underserved areas. It can improve competition. And it can support private investment."
In addition to backing down on enterprise sales, NBN Co said it will roll back overbuilding on third-parties’ fibre and will look at ways of using existing wires instead.