ACCC launches consultation on NBN Co’s proposed SAU changes

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CommsUpdate: NBN Co’s proposed variation to its Special Access Undertaking (SAU) for the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), along with an accompanying consultation paper on the proposal and has called for feedback from interested parties.

The SAU is a key part of the regulation of the NBN that sets the maximum prices and terms and conditions for broadband providers to access the NBN until 2040, with the overarching goal of promoting competition and efficiency in Australia’s broadband market.

The SAU variation proposed by NBN Co reportedly seeks to incorporate fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and other copper-based technologies in the SAU, with a view to creating a single regulatory framework that covers all network technologies.

At present, the existing SAU – which has been in place since 2013 and is scheduled to operator until 2040 – only applies to a subset of network technologies, namely fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), fixed wireless and satellite. However, with such connections accounting for only around one quarter of the NBN’s assets, it has been suggested that extending it to cover the other technologies would bring the majority of NBN assets into this regulatory framework.

Meanwhile, NBN Co’s variation also proposes significant changes to product and pricing commitments, the framework for its cost recovery, and rules for how the ACCC assesses network expenditure.

In a press release regarding the development, ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said: “The variation will influence the price, quality and range of broadband offers in the market for the next two decades. Before we decide whether to accept NBN Co’s proposed variation, we are conducting a public consultation to hear from the retailers who sell NBN services, other service providers, and households and businesses that rely on the NBN for their broadband.”

The ACCC will accept submissions to its consultation until July 8, 2022.

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