Wednesday, 12 September 2018 10:55

NBN Co agrees to improve wholesale deals with RSPs Featured


NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, has given the competition watchdog a court-enforceable undertaking to improve its wholesale arrangements with retail service providers within three months.

The undertaking was given in the context of the ACCC’s inquiry into NBN wholesale service standards which was begun in late 2017 to determine whether NBN wholesale service standards are appropriate, and to consider whether regulation is necessary to improve consumer experiences.

A statement from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the company had offered the undertaking after being shown an interim access determination that the ACCC proposed to make.

As per the undertaking, NBN Co will pay a $25 rebate to RSPs for each late connection and fault that is fixed.

The company will pay the same fee to an RSP for any missed appointment.

And NBN Co has agreed to simplify the process for RSPs to get rebates and also remove some conditions for claiming the rebates.

NBN Co has also said it would improve its reporting to RSPs so they can track the company's performance more easily and better support consumers in congested fixed wireless cells.

The company has also agreed to add information about the level of congestion in its fixed wireless network to the customer experience dashboard that it publishes monthly.

"The undertaking will improve the rebates that NBN Co pays to RSPs for not meeting its service level timeframes for connections, fixing faults and meeting scheduled appointments," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

"This will lead to improved NBN connections and fault services performance overall.

"Under the undertaking given to the ACCC, NBN Co will require the RSPs to continue to take reasonable steps to ensure customers receive a benefit from the improved rebates the service providers will receive from NBN Co.

"This could mean customers could receive rebates from RSPs or other benefits, such as providing a substitute service while a fault is being fixed.

"We have had constructive engagement with NBN Co and RSPs as part of our inquiry into NBN wholesale service standards. The undertaking provides stronger incentives for NBN Co to maintain a high standard of operational performance and so will result in a clear benefit to consumers."

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said: “Today’s announcement is a win for customers on the NBN and follows extensive work by the Government to increase consumer protections and enhance user experience”.

He said as a result of measures introduced by the government and NBN Co:

  • Congestion across the fixed-line network has plummeted from an average of about five hours a week in July 2017 to just 28 minutes a week;
  • Ninety-four percent of homes and businesses were being connected within NBN Co’s timeframes; and
  • Ninety-three percent of homes and businesses now had their equipment installed right the first time.

“Under the government, the NBN will be completed by 2020 – six to eight years sooner and at $30 billion less cost than Labor," Fifield added.

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland described the ACCC move as "a stinging rebuff of [Communications Minister] Mitch Fifield and his opposition to improving NBN wholesale service levels for consumers".

She said the Labor Party and the ACCC had been in the forefront of the policy debate "and Labor welcomes this result as a sensible first step".

“The interim determination by the ACCC is an endorsement of the policy direction in Labor’s NBN Service Guarantee, which has been welcomed by industry and consumer groups, and is designed to improve accountability and reduce downtime on the NBN," Rowland said.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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