The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s inquiry into NBN Co’s wholesale service standards has entered its “next phase,” the ACCC said today.
The inquiry was launched last year with the ACCC using the process to decide whether it needs to step in and make new rules relating to service standards. As part of the inquiry, the ACCC has been examining the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA) — the key agreement that sets out the terms on which NBN Co supplies services to retail service providers (RSPs).
In September 2018, the ACCC announced that NBN Co had given it a court-enforceable undertaking. That undertaking was intended to address a range of issues the ACCC had been considering addressing through an interim access declaration.
As part of the undertaking NBN Co agreed to automatically pay rebates to RSPs when it missed appointments, as well as when the wholesaler didn’t meet standards for connection and fault rectification timeframes. NBN Co also undertook to publish more data about congestion issues on its fixed wireless network.
The ACCC today released a new discussion paper seeking to solicit views on a range of issues including whether NBN Co provides enough performance data to support RSPs advertising and selling services on the company’s network.
In the past, major RSPs have found themselves in the firing line over selling copper-based NBN services with theoretical maximum speeds that some households were never going to achieve. As a result, telcos including TPG, Optus, Telstra and Vocus have been forced to offer compensation to their customers.
Last month, the ACCC unveiled new draft guidance relating to broadband speed claims in marketing material. A key aim of the new guidance is to enable consumers to get a better sense of the likely performance of an NBN fixed wireless service.
Among the issues that the ACCC is currently seeking input in relation to NBN wholesale service standards is what additional fixed wireless information RSPs need from NBN Co to “better set consumer expectations for current and prospective customers”.
“The improved NBN wholesale rebates terms will soon be in effect,” said ACCC commissioner Roger Featherston.
“We will be monitoring the impact of these terms to ensure they give the right incentives for NBN Co to meet its service level commitments and ensure that consumers are better off.”
“The enforceable undertaking addressed some of the more pressing issues, affecting customer experience, but there are still several complex issues to consider, which we are looking at in this second part of the inquiry,” Featherston said.
Other issues the ACCC said it is seeking to address include additional aspects of the NBN rebate framework, wholesale support for retail consumer safeguards and regulatory obligations targeted at the retail level, information and reporting of operational outcomes, and matters relating to liability and third party claims against NBN Co.