/>
X
Business

Govt must act on greenfields: Oakeshott

The Federal Government should investigate whether the National Broadband Network Company's (NBN Co's) approach to fibre deployment for greenfields housing developments is hurting competition in the sector, a joint parliamentary committee report has recommended.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

The Federal Government should investigate whether the National Broadband Network Company's (NBN Co's) approach to fibre deployment for greenfields housing developments is hurting competition in the sector, a joint parliamentary committee report has recommended.

From 1 January this year, NBN Co is the fibre provider of last resort for developments with more than 100 lots, while Telstra is a provider of last resort for developments of less than 100 lots, or for those that were approved before 1 January 2011.

Developers are responsible for providing NBN Co-approved pit and pipe infrastructure for these lots, but the fibre is provided at no cost. Telstra will generally provide copper; however, if the NBN is to be rolled out to the location of the development soon, Telstra can provide an interim wireless connection. Before the fibre is installed, the ownership of the pit and pipe infrastructure must be transferred to NBN Co.

Last month, the committee, chaired by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, heard from greenfields fibre providers such as OptiComm, TransACT and Openetworks, which voiced their concerns that the new arrangements for the deployment of fibre to new housing developments may put them out of business. As a result of their complaints, the Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office within the Productivity Commission has launched an investigation.

In the committee report into the legislation surrounding the greenfields fibre deployment, Oakeshott said that the government must act on the office's findings when they are eventually handed down.

"Taking into consideration the findings and recommendations of the Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office report when it is released, it is important that the government investigate, with a view to rectifying if necessary, the degree to which the roll-out of the National Broadband Network has the potential to diminish competition in the fibre provider market," he said.

Despite this concern, the committee overall recommended the passage of the legislation.

Having already floated potential amendments to legislation with greenfields fibre operators, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull proposed two amendments to the legislation in his party's dissenting report. Those amendments would allow developers to pick a commercial fibre operator to come and install fibre at the new development, and then potentially sell the network back to NBN Co when the NBN is rolled out in that area.

By having the fibre deployed at the time that the development is constructed, new residents would not be left in a state of limbo while waiting for the NBN to eventually be rolled out to their premise, he said.

"The argument is that this would mean a developer could take the matter into his own hands, get on with the job, cable the development in a way that meets all the other construction timetables they have got and would not be disadvantaged financially by doing that," Turnbull said.

It is unclear whether the government will adopt the Coalition amendments, or whether adoption of the Coalition's proposed amendments would even guarantee the party's vote for the legislation.

Editorial standards

Related

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday

The 51 best early Cyber Monday deals on Amazon
Image of Amazon Echo Show 8 on a wooden table in front of a person cooking and folding pastry dough.

The 51 best early Cyber Monday deals on Amazon

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday
LG 65" Class - QNED80 Series

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday