Tuesday, 01 October 2019 11:47

ACCC proposes bigger rebates, new measures to boost NBN standards Featured

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has proposed new terms aimed at improving NBN Co’s wholesale service levels, including a reworked rebate structure increasing the size of rebates for missed appointments, late connections and unresolved faults.

And the proposed changes to the rebate structure would see rebates applied on a daily basis, rather than as a one-off payment.

The ACCC’s announcement follows release of a draft decision on Tuesday putting forward new regulated wholesale terms for the service standards NBN Co - the operator of the National Broadband Network – provides to retail service providers (RSPs).

Under the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA), the ACCC has powers to ensure RSPs have access to quality and reliable products and timely responses to problems from NBN Co.

The ACCC’s draft decision proposes a number of enhancements from the current wholesale arrangements including:

  • Changing the structure of rebates for late connections and fault repairs to apply on a daily basis, rather than as a one-off payment, and increasing the size of these rebates.
  • Increasing the size of rebates for missed appointments by NBN technicians from $25 to $75 and requiring retail service providers to pass on this rebate to consumers.
  • Introducing monthly $20 rebates for fixed wireless services in congested cells or connected to congested backhaul links, as well as $20 rebates for fixed line services that fail to meet certain minimum speed objectives.
  • Enhancing reporting, measurement and automation requirements to promote better communication, transparency and coordination.

The ACCC says its draft decision responds to concerns raised by stakeholders during the ACCC’s NBN wholesale service standards inquiry.

“The new arrangements are designed to give NBN Co more incentives to lift its service standards to RSPs, which should, in turn, improve service to NBN consumers by reducing instances of missed appointments, delayed connections and unresolved faults," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We have heard long-standing concerns from consumers about how frustrating, inconvenient and costly these issues can be. We need to see more action from NBN Co and RSPs, especially now that the NBN rollout is entering its final stages.”

“It’s unusual for a monopoly telecommunications network operator of NBN Co’s scale not to be subject to regulated service standards,” Sims said.

The ACCC says the larger wholesale rebates proposed in the draft decision are targeted at the “most troublesome” issues identified during the inquiry, and are intended to set a new baseline level of service that NBN Co’s customers can expect.

“We expect retailers to ensure that their customers benefit from the payment of wholesale rebates, and we will be working closely with the ACMA to make sure this is the case,” Sims said.

“We will also continue to promote better NBN consumer outcomes with our broadband speed program, Measuring Broadband Australia.”

The ACCC is now seeking stakeholder feedback on both its draft decision and on a draft final access determination, which sets out the ACCC’s proposed regulated terms.

NBN Co and retail service providers are currently negotiating a new wholesale broadband agreement (known as WBA4) that sets out the terms of access to NBN Co’s wholesale service.

“We expect our process to complement these industry negotiations,” Sims said.

“These proposed regulated terms will establish baseline service standards, while allowing parties freedom to bargain on specific terms.

“We expect NBN Co and other service providers to identify more improvements that will benefit consumers,” Sims concluded.

Submissions on the draft decision are to be delivered to the ACCC by 1 November.

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