update NBN Co is nutting out the final details of its wholesale broadband agreement with internet service providers (ISPs) that have been reluctant to sign, despite the fact that a trial agreement expires today.
The wholesale-broadband agreement sets out the access arrangements and conditions for an ISP to offer services on the National Broadband Network (NBN). NBN Co had published a number of drafts last year after consultation with industry, before publishing a final document in November. ISPs such as iiNet, Internode and Optus have held out on signing the agreement, however, because there have been concerns about disallowing regulatory oversight, and NBN Co accepting no liability for customer-service guarantees, negligence or network outages. On Tuesday, just 12 ISPs out of approximately 30 had signed a contract with NBN Co.
With the trial agreement set to expire today, ISPs who had not signed the wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) would be prevented from adding any new customers to the NBN, risking delaying greater take-up on the government's fibre network.
However, NBN Co confirmed that nine more ISPs had signed over the last two days, bringing the total to 21.
The Australian Financial Review reported this morning that NBN Co was making a number of concessions that would shift liability largely to NBN Co instead of the ISPs, with a new agreement set to be sorted tomorrow.
NBN Co will not disclose which ISPs have signed the agreement; however, Primus said that it was one of the companies to sign on the dotted line today. The company explained to ZDNet Australia, however, that it hadn't been one of the ISPs to demand changes.
"Although there were recent changes made to the agreement, no specific concessions were made for Primus."
Late this afternoon, iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby confirmed that iiNet had reached an agreement with NBN Co and had signed the WBA.
"After negotiations with NBN Co, final changes to the agreement resolved earlier key sticking points, in particular: issues relating to appropriate sharing of risk and liability resulting from use of the network," he said.
"We welcome NBN Co's changes to the original WBA as a sensible and positive approach. Our product development, testing and marketing will continue uninterrupted, which is a very positive outcome for NBN Co, iiNet and, most importantly, our new NBN customers."
Internode managing director Simon Hackett also revealed that Internode had signed on.
"NBN Co came to the party this week with some necessary amendments, and they were sufficient for us to be prepared to sign. So we have," he said.
NBN Co said that any changes made to the wholesale-broadband agreement with the hold-out ISPs would apply to all companies that signed the contract.
"Because of the principles of non-discrimination, any changes to the WBA need to be offered to all RSPs [Retail Service Providers], so we need to work through a process," NBN Co said.
Updated at 6:04pm, 12 January 2012: added comment from iiNet and Internode