NBN Co stands firm on wholesale contract

By Ry Crozier on Jan 10, 2012 3:57 PM
Filed under Communications

January 12 deadline looms, big ISPs hold out.

NBN Co has stood its ground over the looming deadline for internet service providers to sign up to a one-year agreement for the supply of wholesale broadband services.

The network builder faced mounting pressure from major ISPs including Telstra, Optus and iiNet, after it emerged they were still holding out against signing the contracts.

ISPs had been given until January 12 this year to sign a wholesale broadband agreement (WBA) that would replace trial agreements operating for first release sites.

Several ISP representatives polled by CRN sister site iTnews in October last year indicated they were cautious about the agreements and were waiting for their competitors to sign on.

ISPs that did not sign a WBA by the end of this week would no longer be able to bring new customers onto the national broadband network.

"When the trial agreements expire we will continue to provide services for the [provider's] existing customers," an NBN Co spokeswoman said.

"Unless a [provider] has signed the WBA there is no contract under which new services can be connected to the network."

The spokeswoman said that of the "over 30" internet service providers that had signed a trial agreement with NBN Co, 12 had so far shifted to a full wholesale agreement.

She declined to identify ISPs that had signed the WBA, citing commercial confidentiality.

The spokeswoman defended NBN Co's stance on the WBA, saying the contract was necessary in order for NBN Co to provide more wholesale services.

She pointed to the number of opportunities that providers have been given to comment on the proposed terms of the agreement.

"NBN Co is committed to having a wholesale broadband agreement which is fair and reasonable to all," she said.

The WBA is in its fifth iteration but has been a source of ire for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as well as ISPs.

In October, NBN Co cut the proposed length of the WBA from five years to one in a bid to appease critics of the contract terms.

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