Cost-benefit panel consults on NBN Co restrictions

Vertigan panel seeks submissions on NBN regulatory framework, telecommunications access arrangements

The panel appointed by the federal government to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network has launched two-part public consultation that examines the regulatory framework in which NBN Co carries out its operations.

NBN Co was established to operate only as a wholesaler of NBN access. Part 2 of the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011 restricts the NBN corporations to supplying services only to carriers and service providers on a wholesale basis, prevents it from providing content and other non-communications offerings, and allows it only to provide Layer 2 services.

However, the act includes a handful of exemptions which, for example, allow NBN Co to directly deal with transport authorities, and power and water utilities, as long as they do not resell NBN services.

The NBN Review Panel, headed by Michael Vertigan, has issued a call for public comment on the framework established by the NBN Companies Act, including the restrictions on NBN Co dealing with end users, the restriction to supply of Layer 2 services (with the exception of some satellite services) and the restrictions on NBN Co investments and supply of non-access services.

The panel is also seeking comment on telecommunications industry access arrangements of Part XIC of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

"The main issues here are whether Part XIC should give greater emphasis to access to lower level service functionality and the co-ordination between Part XIC and the facilities access regime in the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Tel Act)," the consultation paper on telecommunications regulatory arrangements states.

"Many stakeholders have already put forward views on many of these matters in their submissions to the panel’s framing paper," Vertigan said in a statement.

"However, this paper goes into these issues in much more detail. I encourage industry and other stakeholders to put forward any additional views they have."

The panel is accepting submissions on the consultation paper until 14 April.

In February NBN Review Panel issued a regulatory framing paper, which received 30 public submissions from telcos, other organisations and individuals.

The panel is one of several inquiries into the NBN launched by the Coalition since it came to power in September last year.

Last year NBN Co conducted its own strategic review of the network's rollout. Most recently, the federal communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced an inquiry into the public policy process that led to Labor's initial NBN rollout scheme.

Tags national broadband network

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