Thursday, May 23, 2024

NBN Withdraws Special Access Undertaking Variation

NBN Co has withdrawn the variation to its Special Access Undertaking it lodged with the ACCC in March this year and will submit a new variation proposal after consulting with industry.

The Special Access Undertaking is a key part of the regulation of the NBN. It sets the rules for broadband providers to access the NBN over the coming decades, such as how the minimum service standards and price caps will be determined over time, to promote competitive and efficient markets that benefit consumers.

The ACCC’s consultation paper on NBN Co’s March proposed variation to the undertaking identified a range of potential issues with the proposal, and submissions to the ACCC from the telecommunications industry were generally not supportive.

Shareholder ministers this week also gave their support for more significant reforms being implemented through a revised variation proposal from NBN Co.

“NBN Co withdrawing its March proposal brings to an end our formal consideration of it,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

“NBN Co has told us they will soon submit a new proposed variation that reflects the change in the policy landscape as well as industry feedback through the ACCC’s consultation process.”

The ACCC proposes to host an industry meeting in mid-August to allow NBN Co and its stakeholders to present their views on a revised variation to the undertaking. The ACCC will also publicly consult on the revised proposal, when it receives it, as required under the relevant legislation.

“Under the legislative regime we can only accept or reject a variation proposal, we cannot alter it. In deciding whether to accept it, we are required to promote the long-term interests of end users,” Ms Brakey said.

The shareholder ministers have told NBN Co that they expect it to provide support to broadband providers until a new variation comes into effect, and that interim commercial negotiations should leave providers no worse off. The ACCC will monitor these developments.

“When we receive NBN Co’s new variation proposal, we will review it and commence consultation as quickly as possible, so that the ACCC’s statutory process is finalised by early 2023. We are fully aware that broadband providers face commercial uncertainty without a variation to the undertaking in place,” Ms Brakey said.

“Importantly, our consultation will build on the submissions we’ve already received, and the meetings we had with the telco industry last year.”

Submissions made to the ACCC about the variation to the Special Access Undertaking are available at NBN Co SAU variation 2022.


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