NBN Co has issued a statement headed ‘Telco industry onboard with NBN Co’s new Wholesale Broadband Agreement’. Well that’s not quite right – much of the industry is not exactly ‘onboard’.
In its statement NBN Co mentions Telstra and Optus as signing the WBA, but no other names are mentioned, and it is refusing requests for a full list. Depending on how they are defined, there are at least 40 ISPs in Australia, so at least a dozen have yet to sign.
The most high-profile absence is iiNet and its brand names Internode, Adam Internet and TransACT. iiNet is a major NBN reseller and Australia’s second largest ADSL provider (after Telstra).
The company’s refusal to sign was explained by chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby. “We haven’t signed because not all issues have been resolved,” he told iTWire.
“The main reason flows from NBN Co's appalling delivery record, where it regularly meets less than 80% of its new connection commitments to iiNet customers.
“Under the WBA, each connection appointment missed and every fault not fixed on time generates CSG (Community Service Guarantee) payments and potential TIO (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman) charges, which iiNet would be liable for. In other words, we would be responsible for NBN Co's future delays and network failures. This is unacceptable.”
NBN Co nevertheless hopes the new WBA will be fully operational from 1 March 2014. NBN Co’s head of regulatory affairs Caroline Lovell said: “The new WBA was achieved after two years of engagement with industry to develop terms of supply of NBN Co fibre-to-the-premises and wireless based services, and follows the acceptance by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) of NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking.”
The SAU is intended to operate until 2040, a timeframe many observers believe is far too long, given the political, economic and technological developments that will happen over the next 25 years. But that does indicate its importance as a framework for relationship between NBN Co and its resellers.
The ACCC accepted the SAU following two years of extensive consultation and assessment. In April 2013, the ACCC released a draft decision indicating that the SAU submitted by NBN Co in December 2012 did not meet the relevant criteria for acceptance.
The ACCC gave its final notice to vary to NBN Co in October 2013. This process followed the submission and withdrawal of two previous undertakings dating back to December 2011.
The acceptance of the SAU by the ACCC was intended to provide the broad regulatory framework for engagement between NBN Co and resellers seeking access to it to negotiate commercial agreements. The SAU and the ACCC’s final decision are available on theACCC website.
“Significant progress has been made in the development and execution of NBN Co’s new supply arrangements and NBN Co thanks customers for their engagement in relation to the new WBA, said Lovell.
“The new WBA includes a range of enhancements for access seekers, as well as greater clarity and consistency. NBN Co will continue to engage with industry in 2014 as we implement the new WBA and work to further develop its terms in light of ongoing operational experience. NBN Co also looks forward to working with industry to develop supply terms that may be required for the delivery of services using additional technology.”
It seems there is a still a lot of work to do.