The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it will pause any regulatory inquiries related to NBN entry-level access pricing and wholesale service standards to allow the telco sector to focus its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead the Commission released position papers to provide guidance to NBN Co and telcos if they continue negotiations on new wholesale arrangements, which are due to expire later this year.
The papers provide the ACCC’s current views of the nature and direction of any final access determination it may make, once circumstances stabilise.
ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said, “NBN Co has recently allowed access seekers to boost their capacity on the network by up to 40 per cent at no extra cost for three months, which does temporarily address a key concern we have regarding NBN access pricing for basic services.”
The agency said it intends to resume the inquiries after the COVID-19 situation has eased, given the measures NBN Co put in place.
“We understand there is great interest in the outcome of these inquiries. However, we feel it is appropriate to suspend them right now while the sector works to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the surge in demand for communications services,” Cifuentes said.
The papers also include measures designed to improve incentives for NBN Co to meet its connection, fault repair and technician appointment commitments, as well as to allow for better information sharing and operational support offered by NBN Co to service providers.
One proposal is a framework offering a daily rebate from NBN Co to customers for delayed connections and unresolved faults instead of one-off rebates, as well as new rebates for underperforming services.
It also proposes that missed NBN appointment rebates would be increased to $75, which would be entirely passed on to customers by retail service providers.
Another proposal dealt with pricing, setting out what the ACCC considers to be fair and affordable prices for the basic 12/1 Mbps NBN plans, where those moving from legacy ADSL wouldn’t struggle to find an affordable plan.
“As well as benefitting consumers on entry-level plans, we believe our proposed access arrangements will stimulate more competitive prices for higher-speed NBN plans,” Cifuentes said.
“We will also consider other measures to reduce uncertainty over the wholesale price changes that access seekers could expect over time, which can result in higher prices or reduced quality and product offerings for consumers.”