Australian telecoms regulator watching over Telstra HFC/NBN deal

ACCC tells Telstra's right hand to pay no attention to left hand

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has flagged Telstra's deal to build and maintain plenty of the hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) parts of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as something it needs to watch.

The concern is that Telstra's AU$1.6 billion deal to fix the copper and help nbnTM rollout HFC services could give it a head start securing retail customers.

Telstra already offers internet services over the HFC network it sold to nbnTM, so it knows where potential NBN users live. Other internet service providers don't offer services over the HFC network Telstra sold to nbnTM, hence the need to ensure incumbency doesn't translate into unfair advantage.

To that end, the ACCC has said Telstra can't give preferential treatment to its customers over others, in repairing and connecting HFC customers to the NBN; and it wants to avoid the incumbent exploiting its foreknowledge of nbnTM's rollout plans.

The two organisations have agreed to measures such as:

  • Making NBN HFC connections available to all service providers simultaneously, to avoid Telstra getting a “head start” following its installation of them;
  • NBN Co setting priorities on activation and repair work that it allocates to Telstra, requiring Telstra to follow those priorities and de-identifying work orders from other RSPs; and
  • Telstra providing “white label” activation and repair services to NBN Co and requiring its field workforce follow non-discrimination rules when attending end-user premises.

The ACCC also wants access seekers to get more information about the build progress.

The ACCC report is here. ®

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