ACCC puts off decision on NBN Co’s SAU until after federal election

21 Aug 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reportedly suspended a decision on whether or not to accept the long-term pricing plan put forward by NBN Co, the public-private company overseeing the National Broadband Network (NBN) project. According to The Australian, the watchdog will delay its verdict on the Special Access Undertaking (SAU), the document that sets out the terms of access to the in-deployment fibre element of the NBN over the life of the operator’s 30-year corporate plan, until after the country’s federal election. In a statement regarding the matter, ACCC chief Rod Sims said that ‘the proximity of the federal election means that it is not practical to issue the notice at this time,’ adding: ‘The ACCC is nonetheless aiming to settle the arrangements in the SAU as soon as practicable, given that interim contractual arrangements between NBN Co and access seekers will expire before the end of the year … In practice, this means the ACCC would expect to finalise the notice to vary shortly after the federal election.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2013 NBN Co submitted a number of proposed changes to the SAU, having lodged a revised version of the document back in September 2012. At that date NBN Co revealed it would make a number of further changes to the SAU, including the introduction of an Integrated Price Review Mechanism; this will give the ACCC powers over new product pricing and price rebalancing, while also allowing the regulator to initiate a price review at any time. While a number of the country’s established telcos reportedly welcomed the revised proposals, questions were, however, raised over whether there were still enough measures in the SAU to ensure that NBN Co products and pricing are fair to those retailers offering services over the NBN. Subsequently, at the end of July 2013 the ACCC was reported to have accepted the majority of changes made by the NBN Co.