TPG halts FTTB offering due to new regulatory requirements

5 Jan 2015

Alternative Australian broadband provider TPG Telecom has reportedly withdrawn its fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) service from sale, with the decision said to have been prompted by regulations recently imposed on it. According to The Age, a notice posted on the company’s website this week pointed to new regulations under which it would be precluded from selling its FTTB product after 1 January unless it took certain actions. The company noted: ‘There has been insufficient time to complete those steps before 1 January so until we complete the required changes we are required to remove our FTTB products from sale.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September 2014 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) confirmed it would not prevent TPG from connecting large apartment buildings in metropolitan areas to its existing fibre networks and to use FTTB technology. Having concluded an investigation into the operator’s plans on the back of a complaint, the regulator said at that date that it did not believe TPG would be in breach of the National Broadband Network (NBN) ’level playing field provisions’ in the Telecommunications Act; these provisions prohibit the use of networks other than the NBN to supply high speed broadband services to small business or residential customers, unless the network operator supplies on a wholesale basis only and is subject to open access obligations.

However, the authorities subsequently conducted a consultation regarding a new telecommunications licence condition applying to all carriers which would require owners of high speed networks to functionally separate their wholesale operations, and to provide access to their network to competing service providers. Then, last month communications minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed that from 1 January 2015 carriers such as TPG would need to offer their FTTB products on a non-discriminatory basis to their competitors. Looking further ahead, as per the new regulations such carriers must have separate wholesale and retail companies with separate directors, management, staff and operational support systems by 1 July 2015.

It is understood that TPG intends to make its FTTB product range available again in the future once it has become compliant with the new rules, though an expected timeframe for it to do this has yet to be announced.