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NBN Co preps revised access undertaking

New agreement expected by year-end

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NBN Co, the company building Australia’s National Broadband Network, will revisit the rules and pricing for access to its network in response to feedback from access seekers.

The decision, which has been approved by the ACCC, means formal regulatory approval of the Special Access Undertaking (SAU), originally due in September, will be delayed until next year.

The industry had pushed back over several aspects of the SAU: the idea that the document would provide a 30-year regulatory framework wasn’t popular, and retailers were unhappy that the SAU sought to keep NBN Co’s pricing regimes out of reach of the ACCC.

The prices that the company had put in place also caused concern among ISPs; in particular, the cost of the CVC (connectivity virtual circuit – the pipe that aggregates multiple customers between a fibre service area and an NBN point of interconnect).

While NBN Co will still seek to retain control over prices, the organization has hinted at possible price reductions for CVCs.

“What doesn’t change in the revised approach is our commitment to maintain the affordability of our prices,” said Jim Hassell, NBN Co Head of Product Management and Industry Relations.

“The approach continues to lock-in the prices of key products for five years, maintains price controls over all products, and in addition now confirms NBN Co’s intention to decrease the price of the Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) as demand increases.”

NBN Co has also yielded some ground regarding ACCC oversight of its prices, saying it will provide “a more explicit role” for the regulator in assessing its prices.

NBN Co has now proposed breaking up the SAU into different modules that will operate at different time scales. Only the “foundation” rules of the SAU will be set over 30 years, with other modules covering five- and ten-year time scales.

The revised SAU is to be completed before the end of the year, so El Reg will expect continuing lobbying efforts from retailers in the meantime. ®

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