Oz regulator trims broadband prices

'Just a little off the top, barber'

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday suggested trimming the price of wholesale broadband connections.

The ACCC issued two draft determinations yesterday: the “superfast broadband access service” (SBAS), and the “local bitstream access service” (LBAS) – wholesale services that run at 25 Mbps or better.

Its determination caps the prices the NBN's competitors can charge for access ports (the connection from the home to the network) and aggregation (the traffic volume supplied to the retailer).

The draft determination proposes leaving the port price (for providers other than Telstra) at AU$27 per month, but cutting the access aggregation price to $15.25 per megabit per second, per month ($2.25 lower than it is now).

The determination would also subject more networks to the regulation: previously, an infrastructure owner with fewer than 20,000 customers was exempt, but this has been cut to 12,000 customers.

The ACCC's announcement identifies Telstra (with fibre to the home networks in various new housing estates under its Velocity brand, and the South Brisbane exchange area), TPG, Vocus, LBN Co, Opticomm and OPENetworks as affected by the determination.

The commission's chair Rod Sims says in the announcement: “The draft prices have been set in line with NBN prices and will change with NBN prices over time. Prices will reflect the growth in traffic across the superfast broadband sector, which will continue to drive down the average cost of wholesale aggregation services.”

Telstra is subject to slightly different prices because its networks will move to the NBN. Zone 1 ports are cheaper at $23.45 per month; zone 2 ports are $28.46 per month. Although the $16.65 per Mbps per month aggregation charge is more than 43 per cent lower than Telstra could charge before, it's still slightly higher than the other networks.

Carriers have until February 17 to make submissions about the draft, with a final determination due in June 2017.

SBAS and LBAS are pretty much the same – layer 2 bitstream services at 25 Mbps downstream. The main difference between them is legislative: LBAS covers those built, upgraded or extended by more than 1km since 2011, and are covered by the structural separation regulations put in place that year; SBAS covers older networks. ®

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