$27 a month: Turnbull sets out rules to counter TPG FTTB threat to NBN

Communications minister outlines new rules that would force telcos to open up their superfast broadband network to competing retail service providers

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has published the draft licence condition for telcos that want to roll out infrastructure that competes with the National Broadband Network.

The licence condition, which will require carriers to offer access to their network to retail service providers for $27 per month per port, was drawn up in the wake of a finding by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that TPG had not violated 'anti-cherry-picking' rules with its rollout of fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) services.

The new licence condition would apply to so-called superfast broadband services — that is, those with a download speed of 25Mbps or faster — delivered to residential customers.

Under the licence condition carriers will be forced to offer Layer 2 wholesale services to retail service providers under the conditions that they offer to their own retail arms.

"To the extent that the operations of the specified carrier in respect of the designated telecommunications network are not operated on a wholesale only basis at all times... the specified carrier must, in respect of the operations of the designated telecommunications network, establish and maintain a wholesale company and a retail company," the licence condition (PDF) states.

The licence condition would apply from 1 January next year to 31 December 2016.

The anti-cherry picking rules were designed to stop network operators undermining the business case for the National Broadband Network by rolling out competing broadband networks to select high-value (or low-cost to roll out to) areas.

In addition, multiple network operators offering VDSL2-based FTTB services in a single building could degrade the technology's performance.

"The technical performance of a vectored VDSL2 network is optimised if only a single carrier connects fixed-lines from a node to premises and then accesses internal cabling in those premises," a regulatory impact statement (PDF) prepared by the government states.

"There will be a clear advantage for any carrier that is the first to connect vectored VDSL2 to a multi-dwelling unit or business centre. That carrier would have first access to the internal cabling,

"Although a second carrier could conceivably seek to deploy vectored VDSL2 from the same node and use the same cable sheath, this would lead to a significant reduction in technical performance for all vectored VDSL2 networks running from that node."

The consultation on the licence condition is accepting public submissions until 14 November.

In Turnbull's initial announcement that he would introduce a new licence condition the minister said that although the ACCC was examining declaring (regulating access conditions for) VDSL services of the type TPG is offering, that process could take up to 12 months.

A delay of 12 months would create "a window of potential instability and industry uncertainty", the minister said.

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Tags Malcolm TurnbullTPGNational Broadband Network (NBN)national broadband network

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