Comms Minister weighs in on watchdog's regulation of the NBN

Comms Minister weighs in on watchdog's regulation of the NBN

Wholesale prices, competition and spectrum are the top issues raised

Comms Minister Paul Fletcher

Comms Minister Paul Fletcher

Credit: Paul Fletcher

NBN Co’s wholesale prices, business market competition and spectrum are some of the issues highlighted in federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s Statement of Expectations issued to the Australian competition watchdog.

It is common for Ministers to issue a Statement of Expectations to a regulator to address matters such as transparency, accountability and the nature of the relationship between the regulator, government and regulated entities.

“Our telecommunications regulatory framework aims to deliver outcomes for consumers while supporting industry innovation. The ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] has a central role in this framework,” Fletcher said.

“The framework includes the use of a Statement of Expectations so that the government can clearly set out its priorities and perspectives, for the independent regulator to take account of as it goes about its work."

Fletcher noted it was an opportune time to issue the Statement, particularly due to the evolving nature of the telco sector in recent years, including the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout and 5G uptake. 

Within the Statement, the Government pointed to its preference for work to begin on changes to NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking (SAU), particularly regarding the pricing model.

It also emphasised the importance of sustainable investment, domestic and international competitiveness, national security, access to services and the efficient deployment of new networks and technologies.

“The NBN rollout ensures all service providers, including the smaller Retail Service Providers (RSPs), have an opportunity to access NBN Co's wholesale network to compete, including in the business segment,” Fletcher said in the Statement. “This increased competition will also stimulate lower pricing from RSPs for the benefit of end-users. 

"In my opinion, the ACCC should support new entry and competition in this market within the constraints established by the regulatory framework.” 

The ACCC is expected to provide a Statement of Intent in response to this within three months. 

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