Global Information Technology & Communications
Australia - Consultation on draft carrier licence conditions for high-speed network suppliers servicing residential customers
Australia's independent competition and consumer authority, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), recently announced that it would not oppose telecommunications company TPG's plans to use existing fibre-to-the-basement networks to supply high-speed services to residential customers in high-rise apartment complexes. The ACCC reached this conclusion on the basis that TPG's plans would not contravene the National Broadband Network (NBN) level playing field provisions in the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), which compel telecommunication companies, other than in certain exempted circumstances, to use the NBN when supplying residential customers with high-speed broadband.
However, the ACCC now wishes to conduct an inquiry into the regulation of services like those planned by TPG to ensure that there is no adverse impact on competition for the supply of high-speed services to residential customers living in apartment complexes.
Following the ACCC's decision, on 15 October 2014, the Commonwealth Government released draft carrier licence conditions that require the suppliers of high-speed services to:
● separate their wholesale and retail operations into separate subsidiary companies;
● ensure that their wholesale company supplies certain eligible services to its retail company on the same terms as it would supply those services to other carriers and service providers; and
● offer to supply, on request by another service provider, a wholesale service with certain specified characteristics to other service providers for a set price of $27 per month.
These licence conditions would operate for two years to allow the ACCC time to conduct its inquiry and ultimately settle the regulation of this area of the industry into the future.
The conditions have however received criticism in terms of the potential harm caused to innovation by discouraging retailers and operators from working together to design new products and by imposing restrictive regulations on non-dominant telecommunications companies that are important for driving innovation forward.
The Government is seeking public responses to its draft carrier licence conditions until 14 November 2014.
For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten or Jarrod Bayliss-McCulloch