Thursday, July 28, 2011

Australia - NBN Co has released the 3rd edition of its wholesale broadband agreement and special access undertaking

[itwire] NBN Co has released the third edition of its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA) and a discussion paper providing an overview of its planned Special Access Undertaking (SAU).

The latest edition of the WBA two previous rounds of industry consultation. It sets out the arrangements for the delivery of commercial services over the NBN and encompasses matters such as products and price, service levels, technical information, credit policies and future product development. Next month NBN Co intends to release the Operations Manual that will describe the operational processes that support the supply of its services.

NBN Co head of product development and sales, Jim Hassell, said: "We have listened carefully to our customers in developing this agreement, and it is the result of extensive consultation with our customers and potential customers. It uses clear direct language and a simple logical structure to give RSPs a comprehensive view of our services and contract terms."

The SAU outlines the longer-term approach to price setting and cost recovery. It sets out a 30-year role for the ACCC in regulating the NBN, including five-year review periods. It also sets out NBN Co's commitments to reporting to the ACCC at regular intervals to provide it with sufficient information to determine if NBN Co is meeting its SAU commitments.

NBN Co principal of regulatory affairs, Caroline Lovell, said: "The SAU and WBA serve separate purposes but they are designed to be complementary. The intention is that the SAU sets out binding commitments on key price and non-price matters, giving customers certainty in respect of these principles. The WBA then sets out the detailed terms and conditions in a way which is consistent with the SAU's principles."

The release of the documents follows customer briefing sessions in Sydney and Melbourne during the week. NBN Co is seeking responses to the SAU discussion paper by 19 August. It is planned to incorporate any feedback into a draft SAU that will be publicly released before submitting an SAU to the ACCC.

The WBA has been released for RSPs to consider before they sign up to offer commercial high-speed broadband telephony services in NBN Co fibre serving areas when the NBN trial period finishes at the end of September.

Hassell said: "As it is likely the SAU approval process will take some time, we have incorporated some of the key customer protections it contains into the WBA. These will remain in the WBA until either the SAU is accepted by the ACCC, or in the absence of an accepted SAU, 30 June 2017."

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