Bigger rebates among proposed measures to boost NBN standards

1 October 2019

The ACCC has proposed new terms aimed at improving NBN Co’s wholesale service levels, including a reworked rebate structure for missed appointments, late connections and unresolved faults.

In a draft decision released today, the ACCC has put forward new regulated wholesale terms for the service standards NBN Co provides to retail service providers (RSPs).

The draft decision responds to concerns raised by stakeholders during the ACCC’s NBN wholesale service standards inquiry.

“The new arrangements are designed to give NBN Co more incentives to lift its service standards to RSPs, which should, in turn, improve service to NBN consumers by reducing instances of missed appointments, delayed connections and unresolved faults," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We have heard long-standing concerns from consumers about how frustrating, inconvenient and costly these issues can be. We need to see more action from NBN Co and RSPs, especially now that the NBN rollout is entering its final stages.”

“It’s unusual for a monopoly telecommunications network operator of NBN Co’s scale not to be subject to regulated service standards,” Mr Sims said.

Under the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA), the ACCC has powers to ensure RSPs have access to quality and reliable products and timely responses to problems from NBN Co.

The ACCC’s draft decision proposes a number of enhancements from the current wholesale arrangements:

  • Changing the structure of rebates for late connections and fault repairs to apply on a daily basis, rather than as a one-off payment, and increasing the size of these rebates.
  • Increasing the size of rebates for missed appointments by NBN technicians from $25 to $75 and requiring retail service providers to pass on this rebate to consumers.
  • Introducing monthly $20 rebates for fixed wireless services in congested cells or connected to congested backhaul links, as well as $20 rebates for fixed line services that fail to meet certain minimum speed objectives.
  • Enhancing reporting, measurement and automation requirements to promote better communication, transparency and coordination.

The larger wholesale rebates proposed in the draft decision are targeted at the most troublesome issues identified during the inquiry. They are intended to set a new baseline level of service that NBN Co’s customers can expect.

“We expect retailers to ensure that their customers benefit from the payment of wholesale rebates, and we will be working closely with the ACMA to make sure this is the case,” Mr Sims said.

“We will also continue to promote better NBN consumer outcomes with our broadband speed program, Measuring Broadband Australia.”

The ACCC is seeking stakeholder feedback on both its draft decision and on a draft final access determination, which sets out the ACCC’s proposed regulated terms.

NBN Co and retail service providers are currently negotiating a new wholesale broadband agreement (known as WBA4) that sets out the terms of access to NBN Co’s wholesale service.

“We expect our process to complement these industry negotiations,” Mr Sims said.

“These proposed regulated terms will establish baseline service standards, while allowing parties freedom to bargain on specific terms.”

“We expect NBN Co and other service providers to identify more improvements that will benefit consumers,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC invites submissions on the draft decision by 1 November 2019.

More information is available at NBN wholesale service standards inquiry.

Background

NBN Co’s service standards framework is set out within its wholesale agreements, and includes service-level terms, performance objectives and operational targets for NBN Co’s supply of wholesale services.

This includes timeframes for making connections, repairing faults and attending appointments, as well as requirements for NBN Co to take corrective action and provide compensation or commercial rebates if certain service levels are not met.

The ACCC can only make an access determination if it has held a public inquiry about a proposal to make an access determination under Part 25 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, and has prepared a report on the inquiry. The ACCC announced it had commenced the inquiry on 2 November 2017.

Under Part XIC of the CCA, the ACCC is able to determine terms and conditions for NBN services where these would promote the long-term interests of end-users through a final access determination. Regulated terms and conditions of access determined by the ACCC will therefore operate as a fall-back position for NBN Co and retail service provider discussions for WBA4.

Release number: 
180/19
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