NBN Co has now offered "workable" suggestions for how to get the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to agree to the company's special access undertaking (SAU), after months of negotiations.
The SAU sets out the pricing and regulatory framework for the operation of the National Broadband Network (NBN) for the next 30 years, and is designed to work hand in hand with the wholesale-broadband agreement (WBA). The WBA sets out arrangements between NBN Co and access seekers over a shorter period of time; at this point, one year.
NBN Co has submitted the document to the ACCC twice so far. The latest document was put in to the authority in September, and included a five-year freeze on prices for the current set of wholesale products. It also limited NBN Co's ability to raise the prices after that to 1.5 percent less than the rate of annual inflation.
In April, the ACCC said that while the vast majority of the document met its expectations, there were still changes required to the document to ensure that the ACCC has better oversight into the WBAs, and to ensure that the regulator could step in to prevent NBN Co from removing products from offer, and be able to declare services on the NBN.
In a lengthy submission published on the ACCC's website yesterday, NBN Co said it would make a number of changes to the SAU, including introducing an Integrated Price Review Mechanism to give the ACCC powers over new product pricing and price rebalancing, and allow the ACCC to initiate a price review at any time. The ACCC will also be able to stop NBN Co from withdrawing certain products.
Telcos including Optus, Telstra, and iiNet broadly welcomed the ACCC's proposed changes, but all questioned whether they would be sufficient enough to ensure that NBN Co is fair in its offerings to the retailers on the network.
The ACCC has until July 19, 2013, to accept or reject the SAU, but it is not clear when it will make its final decision.