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NBN Co goes back to the drawing board on ‘appalling’ SAU

NBN Co goes back to the drawing board on ‘appalling’ SAU

The proposed SAU presented a price rise for the vast majority of NBN speed tiers.

Stephen Rue (NBN Co)

Stephen Rue (NBN Co)

Credit: NBN Co

NBN Co has withdrawn its proposal for an updated Special Access Undertaking that has been labelled “appalling” by one industry body and is planning to submit a revised version next month.

The proposal, which was submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in March and open to submissions from stakeholders in May, was viewed by the national watchdog as, among other aspects, raising the prices of the vast majority of speed tiers on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

As part of the submission process, telecommunications coalition Commpete stated the SAU was “an appalling response to the pressures and problems, needs and preferences that were identified through the ACCC’s working group process”. 

“It displays a monopolist’s mentality, fails to address the substance of retailers’ long-standing concerns and fosters the illusion that NBN is subject to regulatory constraints when in practice they are wholly ineffective. It must be rejected," the coalition said.

“The time has come for the ACCC to intervene with access determination.”

On Wednesday, NBN Co said it received a letter from shareholder ministers – Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher and Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland – about the SAU and how they recognised “a varied SAU should reflect the changes in the policy landscape and operating environment since the current variation was lodged”.

As a result, the NBN builder said it had told the ACCC it had withdrawn the proposal, with a new one to be put forward by August.

The pair of ministers also said the government “will retain NBN Co in public ownership for the foreseeable future, expand full-fibre access to more homes and businesses and ensure the NBN delivers for consumers and facilitates productivity”.

“We are committed to collaborating with the industry to deliver great outcomes for customers and play our part to create a new commercial and regulatory framework,” said NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue.

“It must be fit for purpose today but, importantly, it must ensure we are able to serve the future needs of customers and enable NBN to achieve government policy objectives.

“The policy landscape has changed since we submitted our original proposal. Therefore, we are pleased to be able to withdraw our earlier submission and submit a revised proposal that takes this into account. The NBN underpins Australia’s global competitiveness in the digital economy so it is imperative that we get this right.

“We look forward to continuing the active consultation with the ACCC, retail service providers and consumer advocacy groups to deliver a new SAU. We are hopeful that by working together with the Government, the ACCC and industry, we can achieve a successful resolution and acceptance of a revised SAU variation.”

In NBN Co's financial results for the first half of FY22, revenue from business customers increased to $493 million.

Meanwhile, its overall borrowings, or group debt, at the end of the six-month period stood at $24.7 billion, $900 million – or 4 per cent – up from the $23.8 billion it claimed as of 30 June 2021.  


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