NBN Co files special access undertaking with the ACCC

6 Dec 2011

NBN Co, the public-private company set up to oversee and manage the construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN), has submitted its special access undertaking (SAU) to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The undertaking, which will work in tandem with NBN Co’s wholesale broadband agreement (WBA), sets out the terms of access to the in-deployment fibre infrastructure over the life of the operator’s 30-year corporate plan.

The SAU details commitments made by NBN Co with regards to the pricing of services over the NBN in the long-term (until 2040), while also setting out any non-price conditions of supply and outlining measure under which it can ensure that it will not recover more than its incurred costs to build the network. By comparison, the WBA, which NBN Co released at the end of last month, sets out the commercial arrangements between NBN Co and retail service providers over shorter periods. Under the provisions set out by the SAU, the ACCC will gain greater power on various NBN-related issues such as introduction of new prices, while another notable feature of the undertaking is that a cap will be placed on price rises for any NBN Co product or service at half of the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) in any one year. Further, prices for basic products offered over the fibre network are to be frozen until June 2017.

The ACCC will now begin a formal consultation process on the proposals, and commenting on the development, Jim Hassell, NBN Co’s Head of Product Development and Industry Engagement, noted: ‘Not only does the SAU provide industry certainty if accepted by the ACCC, it is in the long-term interests of consumers and businesses because it supports the objective we have been set to offer a uniform national wholesale price for our basic services. This is designed to ensure that, whether in the country or the city, people have the opportunity to enjoy the same prices … NBN Co has voluntarily decided to pursue an SAU as we believe it offers an opportunity to reach long-term regulatory certainty earlier than may be possible via alternate processes.’