NBN Co re-submits pricing plan to competition watchdog

NBN Co has submitted its SAU to the ACCC for a second time in just under a year.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The government-owned company charged with rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has submitted a revised Special Access Undertaking (SAU) to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which will outline its pricing and regulatory environment for the next 30 years.

This is the second official lodgement of the document (PDF) with the ACCC, after NBN Co announced that it intended to make amendments to the original document in June this year.

The SAU sets out the pricing and regulatory framework for the operation of the NBN for the next 30 years, and is designed to work hand in hand with the wholesale-broadband agreement (WBA), which sets out arrangements between NBN Co and access seekers over a shorter period of time; at this point, one year.

Internet service providers (ISPs) were concerned that there was little oversight by the ACCC for the WBAs once agreements are signed.

In a compromise, NBN Co opted to freeze wholesale prices for NBN products until June 2017, and will limit price increases per year to 1.5 percent less than the rate of annual inflation. The wholesale broadband agreements are now just two years long, instead of the five years originally planned.

NBN Co has said that the ACCC will be given extra oversight over the WBAs, with any rulings made by the ACCC passed on to all ISPs.

NBN Co's head of product management Jim Hassell said that NBN Co has taken on the feedback provided by the ISPs, and aimed for a balance between the interests of NBN Co, industry, and consumers.

The ACCC will assess the undertaking and open consultations with industry and other stakeholders until January 2013. A draft decision on the undertaking is expected by March. In the meantime, NBN Co will be renegotiating its existing WBAs with the 46 ISPs that are signed up for services.

NBN Co was expected to lodge the document sometime this week, but it was only released to the public at 2 p.m. AEST today.

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