Telstra has finally signed the wholesale-broadband agreement with NBN Co, paving the way for it to offer commercial services on the new National Broadband Network (NBN).
The wholesale-broadband agreement sets out the access arrangements and conditions for ISPs to offer services on the NBN. NBN Co published a number of drafts of the agreement last year, after consultation with the industry, before publishing the final document in November.
The trial agreement that NBN Co had with telcos expired in January, meaning that they could keep their existing customers on the network, but could not add any new ones until they had signed the official wholesale-broadband agreement.
A group of telcos, including Optus, iiNet and Internode, had held out on signing, however, demanding that certain clauses around regulatory oversight and liability for customer-service issues be amended.
Following negotiations, changes to the agreement resolved the issues so that the telcos came on-board. Changes made for one telco are valid for all others that have signed the agreement. The company said that Telstra only requested small changes in one area of the agreement, which NBN Co then offered to the other providers that had signed.
Telstra's signing of the agreement has followed the release of its final structural separation undertaking (SSU) on Friday, which sets out how Telstra's wholesale business will function in the interim 10-year period as the NBN rolls out across the country. That undertaking was necessary before the agreement between Telstra and NBN Co to lease Telstra's ducts and migrate Telstra's customers onto the NBN could be completed.
Telstra has been providing trial services on the NBN already, but will now be able to offer customers long-term commercial plans.
While other companies have already published commercial plans for connections that they are offering to customers over the NBN, Telstra has yet to do so. Telstra was unable to say when it would release commercial plans when asked today.
Even when the company does release commercial plans, Tasmanians from first-release sites won't be able to sign up, because Telstra says that the equipment used for the roll-out to their homes — not the same that is now being used on the mainland — would not provide high enough speeds.
NBN Co has said, however, that the equipment used makes no difference to the company's ability to provide commercial services over the NBN in Tasmania, adding that if Telstra won't provide services to those households, then others will.