Optus denied access to NBN Co's confidential financials

Optus denied access to NBN Co's confidential financials

Summary: NBN Co has rejected a request from Optus to access its confidential financial information.

TOPICS: NBN, Optus, Australia

NBN Co has rejected a request from Optus, which was to seeking to get access to the company's confidential financial information to ensure that NBN Co would not ultimately overcharge access seekers on the National Broadband Network.

Australia's second-largest telco made the request in November as part of ongoing discussions over NBN Co's special access undertaking (SAU), which sets out the pricing and regulatory framework for operating the NBN for the next 30 years. NBN Co submitted a revised SAU in September, indicating that it would freeze wholesale prices for NBN products until June 2017, and limit price increases per year to 1.5 percent, which is less than the rate of annual inflation.

Optus' head of interconnect and economic regulation, Andrew Sheridan, asked to establish a confidentiality regime between NBN Co and the companies that would wholesale services "to enable access to NBN Co's underlying financial data and other modelling, sufficient to facilitate an assessment of the efficiency of the long-term revenue constraint methodology."

He said that providing this information would explain how NBN Co's pricing controls work, and will ensure that NBN Co will not end up overcharging the access seekers.

"Such information will help verify that future charges do not represent over-recovery of costs," Sheridan said. "In the absence of this information, RSPs [retail service providers] will have to rely on publicly available information, which is incomplete."

In a letter published this week (PDF), NBN Co's head of regulatory affairs, Caroline Lovell, denied Optus access to this information, saying that Optus had a basic misunderstanding of the SAU.

Lovell said that a key aspect of the corporate plane is that there will be decreases in prices over time as the average access speeds and data usage increases. Lovell said that the information in the SAU submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was all that was required.

"NBN Co does not believe that the modelling information sought by Optus will assist the ACCC in assessing the SAU," she said.

"NBN Co does not see any utility in providing financial data and modelling of the [long term revenue constraint methodology] as part of the ACCC's assessment of the SAU."

The ACCC is no longer accepting submissions for the discussion paper on the revised SAU, and the watchdog has until the end of March to decide whether to accept or reject this undertaking from NBN Co.

Topics: NBN, Optus, Australia


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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  • Ah the great new monopoly supplier

    Not even their modelling is allowed to be public. No CBA. Unique construction metrics ("commenced"), other construction data bewilderingly difficult to obtain. Contracts paid of hundreds of millions where only thousands of connections actually made. Executive wages more than total customer revenue (year 3+), ...

    This is going to end well;-)
    Richard Flude
    • Hey Fluddy got that page number yet?
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • It would appear...

        That the "page number" is apparently one of his requested "lies"...HC

        And whinging about exec wages... obviously the old green eyed monster is alive and well with some Veruca like CIO's *sigh*
      • what page number

        are you seeking?
        Blank Look
        • Thanks visionary, but I'm sure fluddy is capable of answering the question without any assistance from you.
          Hubert Cumberdale
    • Please explain

      Explain to us why would they need financial information that has no irreverence to what they pay?

      If the roles were reversed, Optus would be claiming this information is private information.

      If they haven't entered the contract to be able to gain this information then it's not there information to begin with.
      • Yes I agree

        Optus would not share that information, however NBN will be a monopoly supplier and as a "forced" vendor Optus and other Telco's may have a right to see if they are being charged reasonable rates based on NBN expenses and mandated return on investment?
        Blank Look
        • Lets see Optus share their confidential info...

          After all, NBN 'need' to know how much they can get away with charging them. No? I didn't think so.
          • Optus will not

            have many customers if they charge too much, Optus have to buy services from NBN Co. That is the key difference.
            Blank Look
        • Which is why...

          "however NBN will be a monopoly supplier "

          Which is why the ACCC has oversight on it's pricing. I'd prefer the ACCC on the job rather than Optus thanks...
          • yes of course

            the ACCC do such a great job at ensuring competition in the fuel and grocery industries.
            Blank Look
  • None of their business

    How is this truly any of Optus' business? Its the ACCC jon to ensure customers are not overcharged, and that NBN CO comply with the terms in their SAU. Optus has no right to the private data of a company who is effectively at the moemnt a competitor.
    I am sure Optus would not be forthcoming of similar information requested from it.