NBN Co keeps initial products under ISP scrutiny

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NBN Co keeps initial products under ISP scrutiny

Unintended catch-all in special access clause.

NBN Co has complied with a regulatory demand to guarantee it will not pull initial access products and services from sale without a minimum 12 months notice to ISPs.

Under plans NBN Co submitted to the regulator as part of the special access undertaking (SAU), initial broadband, telephony and multicast products sat outside mandated product withdrawal rules.

NBN Co is allowed to discontinue certain products under certain conditions, including that it provide customers between 12 and 24 months' notice and that it consult on the planned changes.

Customer consultancy occurs through the Product Development Forum, which is open to all NBN Co's customers, and provides a chance for input on product development and withdrawal. (pdf)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) feared that exempting certain initial roadmap products from the view of the Forum could allow NBN Co to scrap them "without prior notification to customers" and without regard for customers' views.

"The ACCC's preliminary view is that the exemptions are likely to reduce the effectiveness of the commitments in providing certainty to customers about how and when NBN Co may withdraw its products and in turn the effectiveness of the commitments in promoting downstream competition and investment," it noted last month. (pdf)

NBN Co's regulatory affairs and industry engagement principal, Caroline Lovell, noted in a letter (pdf) to the competition watchdog that the effect of the relevant SAU clauses were broader than was intended.

"NBN Co had only intended to exempt products on the initial product roadmap from the commitments in relation to development and introduction (for the reasons set out in NBN Co's supporting submission, and had not intended to exempt those products from the product withdrawal commitments," Lovell wrote.

"Accordingly, NBN Co intends to propose amended drafting for the SAU to remove this exemption".

NBN Co still wants to have the initial product roadmap exempted from the Forum rules for consultancy around the development and introduction of new products.

It argues the initial products were "already developed through an consultative and collaborative product development process", which effectively became the model for product development laid out in the SAU. (pdf)

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