The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has done an about face on the government’s proposed Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) charge, saying it will allow network operators to pass the cost of it on to consumers.
The government in December unveiled plans for the RBS levy, which is intended to help subsidise NBN’s so-called ‘non-commercial’ services — services in areas where a purely commercial broadband service would not be viable.
The government said that it would levy “superfast” (or “NBN-comparable”) fixed-line broadband services, beginning with a base charge $7.09 per service per month. Superfast is defined as wholesale download speeds of 25 megabits per second or faster.
“Our view is that the regulated prices based on the NBN prices may not have allowed these network providers to recover their reasonable costs if they were also required to absorb the proposed RBS charge,” ACCC chairperson Rod Sims said.
“One of our main aims has been to ensure that internet retailers and their customers supplied via the non-NBN networks will not be worse off than if they were supplied internet services by the NBN.”
The ACCC revealed its change of mind this morning as it finalised its regulation of superfast broadband services, such as TPG’s fibre to the building (FTTB) residential services.
The competition regulator has mandated that operators of networks that compete with the NBN will have to allow access to their infrastructure by competing retail service providers (RSPs). The motivation is to prevent networks from undermining the viability of the NBN.
The ACCC this morning confirmed that it would set regulated prices in line with NBN pricing, keeping with its draft decision.
“Consistent with our draft decision, the prices have been set in line with NBN prices and will change with NBN prices over time,” Sims said.
“Prices will reflect the growth in traffic across the high speed internet sector, which will continue to drive down the average cost of supplying services.”