Fixed-line providers face new NBN levy of over $7 per line per month

Under proposed legislation, fixed-line telco operators could face a new monthly levy of over $7 per superfast broadband line per month.

As part of its Telecommunications Reform Package, the Government has released an exposure draft of the Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2017. The draft bill seeks to establish an ongoing funding arrangement for fixed wireless and satellite infrastructure.

The proposed legislation is in response to a discussion paper in October 2016 which found that a transparent levy would cover the costs of the NBN’s fixed wireless and satellite services.

The Government expects the new legislation to commence 1 July 2017.

Consultation on the exposure draft is open until 3 February 2017.

For a copy of the draft legislation and to make a submission, see here.

Proposed relaxation of regulation on NBN competitors

As part of its Telecommunications Reform Package, the Government has released an exposure draft of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2017. The proposed legislation would remove super-fast broadband equivalence obligations on network services aimed at small businesses.

The draft bill also includes various changes, such as:

  • Allowing the ACCC to relax separation requirements on carriers less than 2,000 up to potentially 20,000 residential customers;
  • Allowing the ACCC to exempt operators with very small retail customer bases from the level playing field rules where in the long-term interests of end-users;
  • Empowering the ACCC to create a model functional separation undertaking applying to a "class" of carriers; and
  • Downgrading breaches from a criminal to civil penalty, and empowering the ACCC to issue formal warnings or infringements notices.

Consultation on the exposure draft is open until 3 February 2017.

For a copy of the draft legislation and to make a submission, see here.

Proposed USO reform: NBN as default Statutory Infrastructure Provider

As the final stage of its Telecommunications Reform Package, the Government has proposed placing the NBN as the default Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) across Australia.

The SIP would be established under the proposed Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2017, which would require the NBN to supply wholesale services as a universal service provider to ensure that all premises would be guaranteed an infrastructure connection.

Consultation on the exposure draft, including the SIP regime, is open until 3 February 2017.

For a copy of the draft legislation and to make a submission, see here.

ACMA considering fee hike to numbering services

The ACMA is seeking submissions on a proposed fee hike to numbering services. This follows a significant under-recovery of costs from the outsourcing of numbering services last year as a result of significantly lower than expected transaction volumes by users of the numbering system.

ACMA has proposed three new cost recovery pricing options, all of which will increase costs to users of the numbering system. ACMA wishes to apply the new charges from 1 April 2017.

Submissions are sought by 31 January 2017.

For a copy of the discussion paper or to make a submission, see here.

Productivity Commission recommends overhaul of Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation

The Productivity Commission has released its draft report on the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation (USO).

The Commission proposes that the existing USO be replaced with a universal service policy objective to provide a baseline or minimum broadband service to all premises in Australia following the completion of NBN infrastructure, having regard to accessibility, availability and affordability gaps.

The Commission is seeking submissions on the draft report by 20 January 2017.

For a copy of the draft report and to make a submission, see here.