iiNet voices concern over NBN access plan

Major issues include both the lack of ACCC oversight and accountability for negligence by NBN Co

Australia’s number three internet service provider (ISP), iiNet, has raised concerns over a number of aspects of NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking (SAU), lodged to the competition regulator yesterday.

The the SAU, which will be aligned with the company’s wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) subject to its approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), sets out a 30-year plan for the ACCC to regulate the NBN and also details NBN Co’s commitments in reporting to the watchdog.

The WBA, released at the start of December, is the 12-month contract under which ISPs can sell commercial services over the NBN until the ACCC approves the network's regulatory structure.

On releasing the final WBA last week, NBN Co head of product development and industry engagement, Jim Hassell, said the SAU would include a provision to address industry concerns around recourse to the ACCC.

However, iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, told Computerworld Australia the ISP had many concerns about the document, particularly in relation to section 6.1 which addresses regulatory recourse.

“It effectively means that the ACCC is sidelined,” Dalby said. “This is consistent with their WBA, so no surprises there. That approach seems inconsistent with public policy, though.

“Two of the major issues are the lack of ACCC oversight and lack of accountability for network outages or negligence by NBN,” he said. “There are others, but those are a major concern, because they effectively portray NBN's attitude to the industry.”

Optus would not confirm its position on the SAU, and would not comment on any further negotiations with NBN Co around the signing of the WBA.

Telstra had not responded at the time of writing.

A week on from the release of the WBA, NBN Co has confirmed that just five retail services providers (RSP) have signed on, amid criticism of the contract from Optus, Telstra and iiNet.

NBN Co spokesperson, Rhonda Griffin, confirmed the number but would not confirm exactly which RSPs had signed the agreement.

“We will leave it to our customers to decide when they want to announce their signing,” she told Computerworld Australia.

“We are meeting with a range of customers about the agreement and believe a number will sign in the near future.”

iiNet’s Dalby, maintained the company was still negotiating with NBN Co on the WBA and would not sign until necessary changes were made making it acceptable.

Exetel chief executive, John Linton, confirmed that the ISP has signed the interim agreement.

“We are satisfied with what we have scan read because in the time it will be in existence it will not affect anything we, or anyone else, does,” Linton said when the WBA was released.

“As any agreement between Telstra and anyone else – it is entirely one sided – but Exetel, as a small telecommunications company has zero ability to influence.”

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags Telstranbn cooptusNational Broadband Network (NBN)ExetelAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)RSPsspecial access undertaking (SAU)wholesale broadband agreement (WBA)

More about Australian Competition and Consumer CommissionAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionetworkGriffinIinetOptusTelstra Corporation

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