NBN bows to telco anger over agreements

Summary:The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) has tweaked its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA) for retail service providers in its third release of the document, bowing to pressure over liability and blame issues.

The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) has tweaked its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA) for retail service providers in its third release of the document, bowing to pressure over liability and blame issues.

The WBA is the document that outlines the types of products and services that retail service providers can access on the NBN, as well as the terms and conditions for those services. NBN Co has been consulting with industry over the past 10 months, conducting around 100 hours of consultation with telcos and referring to 22 submissions on the original version of document.

NBN Co has removed a sticking point in the document for many of the RSPs — clause E7 — which would have prevented the RSPs from blaming NBN Co for any fault or issue with the network in communication with their own customers. In submissions to the second release of the document, Optus described the clause as "not practical", while Telstra said that it was "over prescriptive". Vodafone Hutchison Australia said it was a "substantial customer relationship issue", and Herbert Greer (acting on behalf of Internode, iiNet and Adam Internet) said that if NBN Co is responsible for faults, then the RSP is "doing no more than providing accurate and truthful information to its customers".

The government-owned wholesale provider also addressed clauses that telcos believed placed too much liability on them, when NBN Co would be best-placed to manage such risk.

In regards to access, Optus pointed out that NBN Co had sought to force RSPs to be responsible for obtaining consent from home owners every time NBN Co needed to gain access to a premise for equipment installation, removal or maintenance. Optus argued that as NBN Co actually owned this equipment, it should be responsible for obtaining consent to access the equipment. NBN Co changed the clause, so RSPs will only be responsible for seeking consent to install the NBN Co equipment.

NBN Co's head of product development, Jim Hassell, said that NBN Co had listened to the feedback, and had acted to improve the WBA.

"We have listened carefully to our customers in developing this agreement, and it is the result of extensive consultation with our customers and potential customers. It uses clear direct language and a simple logical structure to give RSPs a comprehensive view of our services and contract terms," he said in a statement.

NBN Co also yesterday released a discussion paper for its Special Access Undertaking (SAU), which will set out the 30-year regulation environment for the NBN. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) must approve the SAU, and will review it every five years to ensure that NBN Co is meeting its commitments. NBN Co is accepting submissions to the discussion paper until 19 August.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government : AU, NBN, Telcos

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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