Greenfields exempted from NBN trial expiry

James Hutchinson | Jan 12, 2012 2:01 PM
As telcos battle over contractual nitty gritty.

NBN Co has agreed to continue providing new trial services to greenfield developments until at least the end of the month, despite the expiry of its trial agreement with retail internet service providers.

The wholesaler originally demanded that providers sign its wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) by today in order to continue bringing new customers onto the National Broadband Network.

But only 12 of its "over 30" trial providers had shifted to the full wholesale agreement as of early this week.

NBN Co distributed "transition arrangements" to providers yesterday allowing them to sign new greenfield fibre customers until the end of the month.

Trial providers who refused to sign NBN Co's wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) automatically came under the transition arrangements.

The arrangements come ahead of an expected sixth iteration of the wholesale broadband agreement being nutted out between NBN Co and service providers, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review today.

As recently as this week, NBN Co held firm on the expiry date for its trial agreement, which had already been set back twice over recent months.

The trial agreement was initially set to expire in October last year, but its expiry was pushed back several times over the past several months as NBN Co battled with service providers and the competition regulator over final terms in the wholesale agreement.

NBN Co conceded to producing a one-year final contract, rather than the proposed five, after concerns it would override competitive constraints from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

It is believed that seven providers signed the wholesale broadband agreement before the end of last year while up to 16 had signed more recently, due to ongoing pressure from the network wholesaler.

However, it is believed NBN Co's ultimatum failed to sway the largest and most influential carriers.

Several, including Optus and members of the Competitive Carriers Coalition, have continued to hold out on signing the agreement despite the demands.

Their refusal has also spurred some smaller carriers to follow suit, with Primus becoming the largest known carrier to sign the wholesale agreement to date.

"It's a case - if everyone is going to be bound to do it, everybody has to sign it, you can't hold us to it if everyone hasn't signed it," one telco executive, who did not wish to be named, told iTnews.

"That's the point of equal rights for everybody in this whole deal."