The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a discussion paper related to an inquiry into National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale service standards. In this, the watchdog is seeking views on the service levels that NBN Co commits to in its wholesale contracts where it concerns connections, fixing faults and appointments, while it also seeks to explore issues relating to service providers’ access to rebates or compensation when NBN Co fails to meet its wholesale service commitments. Notably, the ACCC inquiry will consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experiences, and it is said to be looking to determine whether to make a final access determination (FAD) that specifies service levels or other non-price terms and conditions, while it is also considering whether interim regulated terms should be made.
With submissions to the paper due by 16 February 2018, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: ‘NBN is now in its peak rollout phase and the ACCC is concerned that complaints about connecting to services, including missed appointments and having faults repaired, will continue to grow unless improvements are made now … This inquiry will consider whether there are appropriate incentives for NBN Co to remedy service failures. We will also look at the compensation made available by NBN Co to ISPs, which are responsible for providing redress directly to consumers when things go wrong.’
Meanwhile, in separate but related news, Swedish vendor Ericsson has confirmed that NBN Co has extended their managed services partnership agreement an, as such, the gear maker will continue to be responsible for fixed-wireless network operations for the NBN and ground systems operations for satellite service Sky Muster, as well as customer connections and assurance for both technologies. NBN Co’s fixed-wireless and Sky Muster services now cover more than 980,000 premises across regional and remote Australia, with more than 290,000 of these reportedly connected to broadband services via NBN Co’s retail service providers.