Macquarie Telecom has joined Optus in expressing concerns over a government bill that would alter some aspects of the regulatory oversight of NBN and wind back constraints on the government-owned company that is rolling out the National Broadband Network.
The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Access Regime and NBN Companies) Bill 2015 forms part of the government’s legislative response to recommendations made in the Vertigan panel’s review of the National Broadband Network rollout.
Macquarie Telecom’s concerns include measures that vary the non-discrimination provisions binding how NBN relates to National Broadband Network access seekers. The bill would allow the provisions to be suspended when it comes to pilots and trials of new products.
In a submission (PDF) to a parliamentary inquiry examining the bill, Macquarie Telecom said that the non-discrimination rules are a “non-negotiable condition” for the operation of the National Broadband Network.
Any variation to them that creates opportunities for individual access seekers to gain an advantage in their dealing with NBN “necessarily results in a situation where incumbents and larger businesses have a greater opportunity to benefit than smaller and new entrant access seekers”.
Telstra would be best placed to take advantage of such a situation, the telco argued.
Suspending the provisions even for trials and pilots could offer an access seeker a first-mover advantage, in Macquarie Telecom’s view — an opinion echoed by Optus in its submission. Optus also argued that NBN’s first priority should be completing the network rollout.
“Macquarie strongly submits that the case for change to the non discrimination rules has not been made out and, in the absence of a demonstrated, forward looking problem, the risks of making the proposed amendments are too great,” Macquarie Telecom argued.
The telco also took issue with changes in the bill that would affect some aspects of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission oversight of NBN and measures that would alter restrictions on NBN’s lines of business. Those concerns too are shared by Optus.
The Senate inquiry into the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Access Regime and NBN Companies) Bill 2015 is due to report on 22 February.