DITRDC updates policy for communications in new developments, names 17 new broadband SIPs

1 Sep 2020

Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) says that following review, it has revised and updated the Telecommunications in New Developments (TIND) policy. In a press release regarding the matter, the government body said that the policy had been revised in light of changes in the telecommunications market, including the completion of the National Broadband Network (NBN), the growth in competition, and the enactment of the Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime. According to DITRDC, ‘many core elements of the policy continue unchanged’, with the main revisions having been made ‘to give NBN Co greater flexibility to respond to an increasingly competitive marketplace’. Specifically, NBN Co will have the flexibility to charge below the maximum prices set out in the policy, while it will also be permitted to install competing infrastructure where it is commercially viable.

In a related matter, DITRDC also launched a consultation on options for boosting the installation of pit and pipe for telecoms in new developments. With the regulator claiming that a small number of companies are not installing underground pit and pie facilities, it said the options it was considering included: further awareness-raising and work with state and territory governments extending current pit and pipe legislation to unincorporated developers; introducing a requirement for all developers to disclose whether they have installed pit and pipe, or an exemption applies; and enabling people to seek compensation from developers if pit and pipe have not been installed, or are defective and need to be rectified. Feedback on this matter is being accepted until 29 September 2020.

Finally, the agency also confirmed the designation of 17 broadband SIPs, with these companies reportedly covering 325,000 premises in 1,592 locations around Australia, and joining NBN Co – the default SIP for the whole of the country. All Australian premises are covered by the SIP regime, which ‘provides certainty to communities across Australia that they will have ongoing access to modern broadband services’. Under new government legislation which came into force in July this year, all SIPs must provide retail service providers (RSPs) with a service capable of supporting peak download and upload speeds of at least 25Mbps/5Mbps. Further, SIPs must comply with any standards, rules or benchmarks that are set by the government, including maximum timeframes for the connection and repair of wholesale services. The 17 new broadband SIPs have been named as: Advatel Wireless; CipherTel; CNTCorp; CommSol; Fibre Asset Management; Frontier Networks; Interphone; LBN Co; Lynham Networks; OMNIconnect; OPENetworks; OptiComm; PIPE Networks; Real World Networks; Reddenet; Telair Holdings; and TransACT.