Wednesday, 09 October 2019 11:35

ACCC warns NBN Co over playing favourites with RSPs Featured

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ACCC warns NBN Co over playing favourites with RSPs Image by rickey123 from Pixabay

The Australian competition watchdog has warned NBN Co, the company rolling out broadband in the country, about discriminating between retail service providers when it comes to supplying upgraded infrastructure to business customers.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said NBN Co had accepted a court-enforceable undertaking, which included a pledge not to indulge in such activity again.

The ACCC said from at least January 2018, NBN Co had offered differing commercial terms to different RSPs as upgrades were being made to support business-grade services.

Additionally, the watchdog said, one RSP had been given indicative pricing information for the new Enterprise Ethernet service, months before other RSPs were provided the same information.

NBN Co admitted to the ACCC that it had no processes in place to ensure it was meeting its transparency and non-discrimination obligations.

“The ACCC has concluded that NBN Co failed to comply with its non-discrimination obligations on a number of fronts,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“These legal obligations were enacted to ensure that NBN Co does not distort competition in the market for retail NBN services, such as by favouring larger RSPs.”

Sims said that the ACCC had not found evidence to show that NBN Co's conduct caused harm.

“Market feedback suggests that NBN Co’s entry into the wholesale enterprise market has increased competition, particularly in areas where Telstra is the only other fixed-line infrastructure provider,” he said.

“Despite this, the ACCC is satisfied that NBN Co’s conduct amounted to a serious breach of its non-discrimination obligations. The undertaking we have accepted from NBN Co is intended to ensure that all access seekers can compete on an equal footing going forward.”

Reacting to the ACCC's statement, an NBN Co spokesperson said in an unsolicited comment: NBN Co welcomes the clarity and certainty provided by the undertaking agreed with the ACCC. The undertaking helps give certainty to both NBN Co and the market about the way we build our network and how Australian businesses can benefit.

"Providing competitive offerings to help meet the needs of business has always been part of NBN Co's intent. The outcomes that we have agreed with the ACCC provide a transparent platform which confirms NBN Co's crucial role in the business segment. In fact, we're now even better placed to deliver value for the industry and for business customers.

"For a maturing business, this has been a very valuable process, to work constructively with the regulator to firm up processes that not only help ensure compliance but provide simplicity, flexibility and better access to commercial arrangements for the benefit of industry and the business market.

"Many of these improved processes are now in place and communicated to our retail partners, and we look forward to implementing the remaining few obligations as outlined in the undertaking and working together with the industry to provide great customer experience to businesses.

"We take our regulatory obligations very seriously, which we will back up with processes that give our team the tools they need to meet and exceed our customers' expectations. We look forward to maintaining a co-operative and constructive dialogue with the ACCC."

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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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