NBN cherry-picker laws introduced

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NBN cherry-picker laws introduced

Fibre operators face new future.

The Government has introduced draft laws that, if passed, will force carriers that build new or upgrade existing fibre networks to provide an open access, wholesale service to internet retailers.

The NBN Access Arrangements bill was introduced to the lower house last week at the height of debate on the Telstra split bill in the upper house.

In part, the Access bill addressed concerns raised in the NBN implementation study over "carriers other than NBN Co" cherry-picking low-cost, high-density areas to build or upgrade high-speed fixed networks before the NBN could arrive.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's office told iTnews last month that the Government would adopt the study recommendations to combat the threat of cherry-picking by introducing these draft laws.

According to explanatory notes first reported by telecommunications journal CommsDay, the proposed laws would put "specific technical and open access requirements on carriers who build or upgrade fixed-line superfast access networks after 25 November 2010, the date of the Access Bill's introduction into the Parliament."

The laws would apply to carriage services of "more than 25 Mbps" on the downlink.

Carriers would be required to meet "codes and standards based on NBN Co specifications" when they built or upgraded their networks.

They would also be required to offer a Layer 2 bitstream service – essentially "a basic connectivity service, of a wholesale nature" – on a non-discriminatory basis.

The rules would affect anyone building out or upgrading fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) or fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) networks.

"The rule would not apply, however, to point-to-point connections provided to single individual government or corporate end-users or proprietary networks," the explanatory notes stated.

Telco reform

Although the Senate has completed sittings until February next year, the House of Representatives was due to sit once more today.

It was expected that the Telstra split bill would be returned from the Senate with the amendments agreed Friday before parliament commenced its summer break.

The reform agenda would likely stay on the public radar, however, with the Government expected to reveal a more complete version of the 400-page NBN Co business plan sometime next month.

The Government released a 36-page summary of the plan last week in return for the crucial votes of the independents in the Senate.

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