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ACCC calls for input on wholesale rules

Define ‘discrimination’

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is pushing on with its frenzy of National Broadband Network-related activity with a consultation paper looking at the question of discrimination between wholesale customers.

The general principle underlying the interaction between the NBN and its retail customers is that wholesale access is to be non-discriminatory: all retailers should pay the same price for access, and should be subject to the same commercial terms.

However, some exceptions are going to be necessary. One particular example given in the ACCC’s consultation paper is creditworthiness: should a premium apply to a provider that can’t prove its ability to pay its bills?

The question the ACCC needs to answer is how many other “discriminatory practices” now exist that might still be justifiable once the NBN is rolled out.

The paper also seeks information about whether or not the principles of non-discrimination are likely to constrain the NBN from varying its contract conditions over time.

The most contentious aspect of discriminatory practices, however, is likely to be internal discrimination. In those limited cases where NBN Co will be permitted to offer services directly to an end user, should it be able to offer itself discounted wholesale prices?

El Reg would imagine the industry at large already knows its answer to that question. ®

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