NBN Co, TPG still waiting to begin court arguments

Directions hearing stood over until 28 November

The court battle between NBN Co and TPG has been postponed another three weeks.

The NSW Supreme Court this morning decided to stand over until 28 November the directions hearing for the trial between NBN Co and TPG subsidiary Pipe Networks to allow the parties to agree to a statement of facts.

This marks the second delay of the case, which relates to TPG’s planned fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) rollout that will compete with the National Broadband Network.

NBN Co filed proceedings in the court earlier this month. The government-owned company overseeing the rollout of the NBN is alleging that the wholly owned TPG subsidiary has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.

Computerworld Australia understands that Pipe has been accused of misleading the owners of apartments where FTTB services are being rolled out in regards to their obligations to provide power to the network operator's equipment.

NBN Co earlier this year announced a commercial response to TPG's rollout, seeking to deploy its own services to apartment blocks (or so-called 'multi-dwelling units') in a number of Australian cities.

The court action comes as the government seeks to limit the threat TPG's FTTB rollout poses to NBN Co.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced in September that TPG had not violated 'anti-cherry-picking' rules with its rollout of FTTB services.

NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski has previously indicated that the "economics of NBN would be severely impacted" if telcos do an end-run around anti-cherry-picking rules.

In the wake of the ACCC's announcement, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would take action to force telcos that want to build infrastructure to deliver 'superfast' (25Mbps or faster) broadband services to residential users to undergo functional separation.

Telcos would have to establish separate wholesale and retail arms and offer access to their infrastructure to competing retail service providers.

Turnbull later announced the new draft licence condition that would be imposed on carriers. Under the new licence condition, carriers will be forced to offer the same terms to competitors as they do to their retail arms.

NBN Co will also be in court this April for a two-day hearing in its case against Telstra. NBN Co is appealing a decision earlier this year, relating to how CPI adjustments are calculated in the company's $11 billion agreement with Telstra.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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