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Conroy calls for NBN Co law feedback

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is seeking views on the legislative framework that will govern the National Broadband Network Company as the Communications Senate Committee dissects his first piece of NBN legislation.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is seeking views on the legislative framework that will govern the National Broadband Network Company as the Communications Senate Committee dissects his first piece of NBN legislation.

"I invite interested parties to provide their views on the legislation covering the access regime for the National Broadband Network and governing the operations, ownership and control of the National Broadband Network company," Senator Conroy said in a statement this afternoon.

The government will hand submissions to the soon to be selected lead advisor for the NBN implementation study.

Views sought include how it should implement the new telecommunications regulatory framework that was raised in its recent reform discussion paper. It's also seeking views on the process for defining services to be offered by the company, how and for what period it should set price and non-price terms and conditions, and how the company should deal with pricing and access equivalence to the NBN.

Ownership caps will also be covered. Conroy has flagged that private investors should own no more than 15 to 20 per cent of the company, but he now wants to know what those restrictions should be to ensure equivalence. The government is also seeking views on how it should sell its 51 per cent stake in the network.

Written submissions are due by Thursday 30 July 2009.

Today's call for views follows 120 submissions the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy received in response to its telecommunications regulatory reform discussion paper.

Responses from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Optus, and the Competitive Coalition of Carriers had recommended Telstra's structural separation, amongst other regulatory changes.

Telstra advised against functional separation, and suggested a new telco adjudicator be established that was partly funded by Telstra but run by the government. It also wanted an independent auditor to evaluate the worth of its copper network.

Conroy today said the NBN Co is planned to be overseen by the current regulator, the ACCC, with a reminder the company will operate on a wholesale-only, open access basis.

The call for papers comes as the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts has launched an inquiry into Conroy's first piece of NBN legislation, which will attempt to expand the government's information gathering powers from solely telcos to all utilities.

The committee will look at whether the confidentiality provisions under the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures No 1) Bill 2009 are enough to protect privacy of the utilities. A report is due by 17 August.

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