The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) aims to convene an industry roundtable to gather views which it believes will help inform a revised special access undertaking (SAU) that applies to the entire National Broadband Network (NBN) access network. In a press release regarding the matter, the ACCC said it welcomed the recent announcement by NBN Co, the company managing the NBN, that a new approach to the regulation of its access pricing is needed for the telecommunications industry and NBN customers. To this end, NBN Co has notified the ACCC that it intends to lodge a revised SAU within the next twelve months, with its current SAU only setting out access and pricing terms for NBN Co’s fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP), fixed-wireless and satellite networks, which combined currently only represent about 25% of active NBN connections.
According to the ACCC, its consultation process is particularly important given NBN Co’s announcement that it no longer intends to undertake consultation on longer term pricing, but will instead prepare a discussion paper on its approach to incorporating multi-technology mix access technologies into the undertaking. Meanwhile, the ACCC has suggested the roundtable will also give NBN customers an opportunity to comment on whether concerns that the ACCC has previously raised about extending the existing pricing arrangements to all network technologies are material to end users of the NBN.
‘This roundtable will be an important step in this process of designing a revised regulatory model for the NBN that sets pricing and access terms for its whole network,’ noted ACCC chairman Rod Sims, adding: ‘Until now, access pricing has largely been developed by NBN Co, so the prospect of bringing this work squarely within the remit of a special access undertaking with effective ACCC oversight is a very significant change.’