ACCC guidance on NBN access inquiries

2 April 2020

The ACCC has outlined its views on wholesale access terms currently being considered by two NBN-related inquiries in position papers released today.

The ACCC will pause its inquiries, examining both NBN entry-level access pricing and wholesale service standards, to allow the communications sector to focus on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The position papers provide the ACCC’s current views of the nature and direction of any final access determination (FAD) that the ACCC may make, once circumstances stabilise.

“We have released the position papers to provide guidance for NBN Co and access seekers if they continue negotiations on new wholesale arrangements, which are due to expire later this year,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“NBN Co has recently allowed access seekers to boost their capacity on the network by up to 40 per cent at no extra cost for three months, which does temporarily address a key concern we have regarding NBN access pricing for basic services.”

The ACCC’s position paper for the NBN Wholesale Service Standards Inquiry sets out its views on measures designed to improve incentives for NBN Co to meet its connection, fault repair and technician appointment commitments.

The proposed measures will also allow for better information sharing and operational support offered by NBN Co to service providers.

The ACCC has proposed a framework that offers a daily rebate by NBN Co for delayed connections and unresolved faults instead of one-off rebates; and new rebates for underperforming services.

Importantly, it is proposed that current missed NBN appointment rebates are increased to $75 and that these be entirely passed on to customers by retail service providers.

The second position paper, for the NBN Access Pricing Inquiry, sets out what the ACCC considers to be fair and affordable prices for basic speed NBN services of 12/1 Mbps, which would mean consumers moving to the NBN from legacy ADSL and other services do not struggle to find an affordable plan.

“As well as benefitting consumers on entry-level plans, we believe our proposed access arrangements will stimulate more competitive prices for higher-speed NBN plans,” Ms Cifuentes said.

“We will also consider other measures to reduce uncertainty over the wholesale price changes that access seekers could expect over time, which can result in higher prices or reduced quality and product offerings for consumers.”

Given the measures that NBN Co has put in place, the ACCC now intends to resume the inquiries after the COVID-19 situation has eased. 

“We understand there is great interest in the outcome of these inquiries. However, we feel it is appropriate to suspend them right now while the sector works to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the surge in demand for communications services,” Ms Cifuentes said.

A Final Access Determination (FAD) provides access seekers with regulated terms and conditions of the access to the NBN that would apply if they are unable to reach a new commercial agreement with NBN Co.

NBN Co has been consulting with access seekers over commercial access agreements since late 2019, including service standards, product and pricing offers.

Further information is available at Inquiry into NBN access pricing and NBN Wholesale Service Standards Inquiry.

Background

The ACCC has powers under Part XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) to make regulated terms and conditions of access to NBN services to promote the long-term interests of end users. NBN services are declared services.

The ACCC may consider regulatory intervention through a binding rule of conduct, an interim access determination or a final access determination.

The inquiries are being conducted under Part 25 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Release number: 
60/20
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