NBN service terms finally get green light

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NBN service terms finally get green light

Competition regulator approves revised SAU text.

After two years of back and forth over the terms and conditions for services supplied over the NBN, Australia's consumer watchdog has finally approved the latest edit of NBN Co's Special Access Undertaking.

The SAU sets out a framework for the terms of access to the national broadband network and the wholesale pricing of NBN services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted the varied SAU lodged by NBN Co in mid November

The regulator has continually pushed for greater oversight powers such that it could intervene on pricing disputes.

NBN Co announced in November that it had accepted the most recent changes requested by the ACCC in April. The ACCC spent the intervening months consulting with industry on the changes before giving its approval.

“This is a vastly different SAU than the version first submitted by NBN Co two years ago. Through the changes the ACCC requested and NBN Co has made, it is now a much more balanced instrument,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

Sims said while there was some uncertainty around the form the NBN will take, the commitments in the SAU were technology neutral and unlikely to require any further change.

“If, however, NBN Co wishes to vary the undertaking in the future in light of any new directions from the government, this can be accommodated,” Sims said.

NBN Co lodged the first draft of the SAU with the ACCC in December 2011.

The SAU includes:

  • a set of initial prices;
  • price controls preventing NBN CO from raising prices by more than CPI minus 1.5 percent until 2040;
  • price adjusting provisions allowing the ACCC to “rebalance” NBN Co’s prices in a “revenue neutral manner” and determine prices for new products, and
  • ACCC oversight over product withdrawal and any changes to existing products.
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