NBN Co’s top five retail service providers - Aussie Broadband, Optus, Telstra, TPG Telecom and Vocus - have asked the ACCC to directly intervene and set prices for NBN services.
The five want to see NBN Co regulated by an access determination - either on an interim or final basis - by the end of the year.
The escalation is a clear indication that RSPs have lost patience with NBN Co to come up with an agreeable pricing model for the future on its own, or in collaboration within the industry.
A restructucture of NBN Co’s price model has been on the cards since early 2021, with the ACCC being called upon to lead the process in April last year after NBN Co and RSPs could not reach agreement.
But the ACCC process has also become drawn out.
A draft pricing model released this week shows barely any progress from a proposal NBN Co first shopped with industry in June last year.
The ACCC savaged the draft model in a consultation paper this week, arguing it would pave the way for broadband prices to increase through to 2040.
In a joint letter sighted by iTnews, the five RSPs wrote that NBN Co “has chosen to make no material compromise” on its earlier price proposals, despite the ACCC’s involvement.
“We request the ACCC undertake a Part 25 inquiry and urgently develop an access determination that will establish a regulatory regime which promotes the interests of end users,” the five wrote.
“Such an access determination could prevent year-on-year wholesale price increases worsening cost of living pressures, encourages the future investment needed by the market, contributes to growth of Australia’s digital economy, and protects RSPs from monopolistic behaviour.
“If this cannot be achieved by November 30 or thereabouts, we request the ACCC consider issuing an interim access determination to ensure end users do not suffer from the effects of NBN Co’s proposal to significantly increase wholesale prices.”
The RSPs said that NBN Co “has had more than enough time to engage meaningfully with the ACCC and industry.”
NBN Co remains under caretaker conventions that have kept it from commenting further on developments this week.
However, in supporting documents submitted to the ACCC, NBN Co said that it had so far “under-recovered its prudently incurred costs” on the understanding that it could recover them slowly between now and 2040.
NBN Co also warned the ACCC not to try to write down or otherwise minimise the level of investment sunk into the network.