Small ISPs left on backburner by NBN Co

North Queensland Telecom has voiced frustration over the lack of information from NBN Co

The founder of North Queensland Telecom has voiced frustrations around the lack of information provided by NBN Co on the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), claiming that smaller ISPs have been overlooked in the process.

In a Parliamentary hearing into the NBN, Jeremy Moffat criticised the company in charge of building the network for being unable to provide easy to understand information.

“As a small ISP the flow of information to us has been negligible," he said. "There’s been virtually nothing, I’ve had to go out and source the information.

“Given the importance of the NBN I would’ve thought that the government or NBN Co would’ve engaged someone to go out to all of the small service providers and provide them with good quality information.”

Moffat said he needed simple, easy to understand document with ‘you pay this much and you’ll get this much’ information.

“There seems to be a requirement in writing the documents that have been sent in, to make them as hard to understand as possible,” he said.

Moffatt's comments come as NBN Co this week released a pricing calculator for potential access seekers to determine wholesale pricing over the network.

Moffatt also raised concerns small ISPs would become subject to the "chest beating" of tier one providers under the network, and be forced out of the market.

His concerns echo the argument first raised by Internode managing director, Simon Hackett, that ISPs with a customer base of less than 250,000 would be restricted from competing under the NBN due to the wholesaler's pricing structures. Optus has confirmed plans to on-sell NBN access to smaller ISPs as an aggregator, potentially providing cheaper access to fibre backhaul for cross-country services, and importantly mass access to the NBN connectivity virtual circuit.

Professor Ian Atkinson, director of James Cook University's eResearch Centre, raised a similar issue earlier in the hearing, arguing that a lack of competition in regional fibre backhaul to northern Queensland could ultimately push up retail pricing to students.

Moffatt suggested a coalition of small ISPs like his own, allowing providers to directly access NBN infrastructure and potentially dropping the retail price handed onto end-users.

"We’re certainly not looking for a handout," he said. "We would expect to have to pay for the access and expect to pay the appropriate setup fees on a pro-rata basis and I think if someone was to canvass the other small ISPs around the country, then they’d all agree."

The coalition, should it go ahead, would aid smaller organisations looking to take advantage of the network, according to Moffat.

“There are a lot of small health operators that are thinking ‘how can I benefit from NBN Co as well as all the big guys?’ So I guess that’s where we see ourselves as providing a service to the smaller operators."

As reported by <i>Computerworld Australia</i>, the Queensland-based agricultural lobby group, AgForce called on the Federal Government to “try harder” in rolling out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology to 100 per cent of premises under the NBN.

AgForce chief executive, Robert Andrew Walker, said the seven per cent of the country to miss out on fibre will most likely be the seven per cent that is already missing out on technology

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags National Broadband Network (NBN)North QueenslandNorth Queensland Telecom

More about Andrew Corporation (Australia)etworkFederal GovernmentInternodeJames Cook UniversityJames Cook UniversityOptus

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