How much carriers will be charged for access to the National Broadband Network has not been finalised, according to an NBN Co response to a question on notice asked during Senate Estimates earlier this year.
Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald had asked what access to the network would cost at Senate Estimates hearings in May.
"I was told that NBN Co wasn't sure but in the meantime they were giving access to the network away at no charge. I was told that they would take the question on notice and get back to me with a more complete answer," Macdonald said.
The response, received last Friday, reads "The overall national pricing structure is yet to be finalised and is part of our Special Access Undertaking (SAU) to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)."
Pricing in Tasmania for carriers was set at a flat per premise fee of $300 until July 2011, which NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said was necessary to help providers with their costs of setting up.
Macdonald said this arrangement was likely to continue for the rest of the build until the question was answered, which he saw as not viable. "How is NBN Co ever going to pay interest on its borrowings, let alone pay a dividend on its $43 billion investment, if it receives no income?" he asked.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's office was contacted for comment, but there had been no response at the time of publication.
NBN Co said it had been involved in ongoing discussions with the ACCC for some months to develop the SAU.
"We are yet to lodge the undertaking, but when we do, the ACCC will carry out an industry consultation process and seek submissions," the company said in a statement. "We expect the ACCC will take some time to give all material detailed consideration before making a determination, and therefore the process may take several months to complete."
NBN Co had previously indicated that its wholesale pricing needed to be competitive with pricing already in the market, the statement added.