NBN Co prepares September undertaking

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NBN Co prepares September undertaking

Readies wholesale broadband agreement revisions.

NBN Co is planning to lodge its special access undertaking with the competition watchdog by the end of September, six months after initially planned.

But the delay was unlikely to disrupt NBN Co from charging access seekers for network services from October.

The special access undertaking was expected to include initial wholesale pricing to be charged by NBN Co to access seekers under the network. It would also lay out non-discrimination commitments and reporting procedures.

NBN Co indicated in its corporate plan released last year that it would look to lodge the undertaking by March 31, after key legislation was passed through Parliament.

Despite the bills being voted through in late March, the undertaking was yet to be received by the ACCC this week.

An NBN Co spokesman confirmed the wholesaler had yet to lodge it.

"The lodgement is some weeks off yet," the spokesman said. "We have been in discussions with ACCC for some time."

NBN Co indicated in its corporate plan that once the undertaking had been lodged, the watchdog required up to six months to accept or reject it, "subject to extensions of time and 'stop clocks'".

Revised WBA out tomorrow

A revised version of the wholesale broadband agreement binding access seekers and NBN Co was expected to be released tomorrow, after a third round of consultation with access seekers this week in Sydney and Melbourne.

The agreement, which guaranteed five-year fixed wholesale pricing beginning at $24 a month for a basic service, remained largely unchanged.

However, it included a new module providing the conditions on which the special access undertaking with the ACCC would take place.

Retail service providers were yet to sign the wholesale agreement, which was released in an initial form last year.

NBN Co said at the time that it wanted to finalise the contract by the end of this month, a time frame it appeared to have met following this week's consultations.

However, it was unclear when access seekers would finally approve and sign the contract.

"We expect the access seekers need time to consider the latest update," an NBN Co spokesman said.

It has not stopped retail service providers from making price announcements on end user services, with Exetel in particular indicating its prices wouldn't change until 2013.

It was believed that any prices set and charged by retail service providers without a completed undertaking would be deemed "unregulated".

The Australian reported last week that the ACCC had begun an inquiry into prices on the back of announcements from retail service providers.

It's believed this inquiry was part of ongoing discussions with NBN Co rather than a separate process.

One telco industry source said the process required greater oversight by the watchdog, which was present at industry consultations this week.

"I think it's a bit presumptuous to go and put pricing out there," the source said.

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