NBN Panel of Experts issues consultation paper and calls for submissions about access arrangements

The federal government’s NBN Panel of Experts has asked for submissions from the public after issuing a consultation paper reviewing access arrangements for telecommunications carriers.

The consultation paper looks at regulations under Australia’s competition and telecommunications laws that govern when telecommunications carriers can gain access to final-mile phone lines and other telecommunications infrastructure.

The review is looking at both section 152 of the Competition and Consumer Act, which covers telecommunications regulations, as well as Division 2 of Part 2 of the NBN Companies Act, which deals with the “wholesale only” restrictions on the NBN Co.

Topics covered in the consultation paper include the concept of ‘significant market power’, the delivery of vectored VDSL services, standard forms of access agreements, ministerial pricing determinations and the ability of the NBN Co to deal with end users.

In turn, the access arrangements review is the latest in a string of reviews into the national broadband network and telecommunications regulations, which is being carried out by a panel of experts appointed by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

One possibility outlined in the discussion paper is giving the NBN Co the ability to interact directly with its end users in some circumstances, rather than through retail providers.

The report states that NBN Co could potentially interact customers without displacing retail providers.

“However, there may be circumstances when there could be advantages in NBN Co having some discretion to deal directly with end-users.

“In offering network extensions to communities, fibre on demand and installing parts of its network (e.g. network termination devices), there may be benefits in NBN Co clearly being able to deal directly with end-users for reasons of effectiveness and efficiency.

“To the extent that NBN Co could operate better by dealing with end-users, its supply would not necessarily displace retail service providers and could indeed be to their benefit (were NBN Co best placed to provide those services).”

The discussion paper can be downloaded here, with submissions on the paper closing on April 14.

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