ACCC wants to regulate high-speed broadband access

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ACCC wants to regulate high-speed broadband access

Vectoring noise-cancellation requirements triggered competition concerns.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is proposing to create a new superfast broadband access service (SBAS) to provide competing telcos with certainty around obtaining wholesale connections.

In a draft decision released today, the ACCC suggested telcos should be allowed access to broadband services with a faster than 25 megabit per second downstream connection on all fixed-line networks in Australia. 

ACCC said no access would be required in areas where network operators already face competition from alternative fixed network providers.

Similarly, the declaration would not apply to NBN supplied services or the cable broadband networks that are to be transferred to the network builder.

In September last year, the commission began its inquiry into whether VDSL2 over copper should be a declared and regulated service under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Competition concerns arising from the proposed use of vectoring noise cancellation to prevent interference between copper line pairs in a cable sheath were blamed by the ACCC as the reason for the inquiry.

"The use of vectoring removes interference that would otherwise reduce the data speeds that could be provided on copper lines within a single cable," the ACCC said.

"However, vectoring is only effective if there is one network provider operating all the copper lines within a cable. This could give rise to competition concerns if providers were to install vectored VDSL2 equipment in multi-dwelling buildings without providing access to other retail services providers on competitive terms."

A May 2015 discussion paper on the SBAS inquriy received nine submissions from industry.

Since then, the commission has included fibre and hybrid fibre-coaxial networks in its draft declaration, which would cover services provided on the following networks:

  • Telstra’s FTTP networks in South Brisbane and Velocity estates
  • iiNet’s VDSL network in the ACT and HFC networks in regional Victoria
  • TPG’s FTTB networks
  • Spirit Telecom’s FTTB networks; and 
  • Other networks that supply superfast carriage services, including superfast broadband networks that existed before 1 January 2011.

ACCC is now inviting submissions on the draft decision, with a closing date of December 4.

The regulator would like input on the costs of complying with the declaration, and whether or not smaller network providers should be exempted from the regulation for economical reasons.

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