Optus has led criticism of NBN Co’s latest ideas on pricing, saying such consultations were proving to be “a waste of time”, as other retailers were left similarly underwhelmed.
NBN Co on Wednesday outlined several new price proposals, including small bandwidth increases to its service bundles in the short-term, a one-year ‘soft cap’ on excess bandwidth charges, and a fast-tracked discussion of longer-term price changes.
But Optus vice president of regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan indicated that he felt retailers and customers still weren’t being listened to.
“These consultations are a waste of time if NBN Co simply ignores feedback, fails to consider the needs of customers and continues to maintain the fiction that prices are going down,” Sheridan said.
“Almost unanimously, retail service providers (RSPs) called on NBN to provide a fixed price option, and advised that its short-term options are not-fit-for purpose for consumers, RSPs – or even the NBN.
“NBN Co has ignored us, and ignored the users of the NBN.
“What it has done instead is proposed a discount structure that bizarrely still allows customers’ costs to increase, whilst requiring RSPs to limit competition between themselves.”
TPG Telecom’s group executive of legal and external affairs Trent Czinner said that NBN Co’s latest price proposal “doesn’t go far enough”.
“Instead of simplifying the pricing model and moving away from the outdated CVC [connectivity virtual circuit bandwidth charge], it adds more complexity and further entrenches the CVC,” Czinner said.
“We’re concerned the CVC soft cap threshold is designed to discourage competition.
“Working from home, video and other consumer trends mean the CVC isn’t fit-for-purpose and should be replaced with a flat pricing model.”
A Telstra spokesperson, meanwhile, said NBN Co’s latest proposal “fails to address the fundamental concerns we and other retailers have about increasing costs and complexity.”
“We believe the best way forward is for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to take a stronger role and we get to a solution that can be endorsed by all parts of the industry, and provide a stable basis for pricing well into the future,” the spokesperson said.
“We’re pleased to see the ACCC’s announcement today on next steps on this.
“We need real reform to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of NBN Co and the rest of the industry.
“Getting this right is critical to achieving the government’s goal of making Australia a leading digital economy and to giving Australians the broadband experience they need at a price they can afford.”
Aussie Broadband managing director Phillip Britt largely reserved judgement on the new proposals.
"Like all NBN pricing consultations the solution is never straightforward," Britt said.
"We’re still digesting the information and the impact of the new proposal for the soft cap and how it might affect our business."
Comment was being sought from other RSPs at the time of publication.