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ACCC 'not satisfied' with NBN Co special access

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is proposing a number of changes to be made on the NBN Co's Special Access Undertaking (SAU).

In a statement, ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, said it was not satisfied the SAU met relevant acceptance criteria.

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"The SAU is a complex undertaking that NBN Co proposes will operate until 2040. It is important that the rights or obligations the SAU imposes on NBN Co, access seekers and the ACCC are reasonable, in the long-term interests of end-users and clearly expressed so that they are well understood by all parties," he stated.

In the original SAU, telco's expressed concerns that ACCC didn't have enough power under the NBN.

ACCC is proposing a number of suggested variations and issued a consultation paper on the changes. Some of the main areas include providing certainty about how NBN Co will comply with its obligations under the telecommunications access regimes particularly with any ACCC regulatory rulings; allowing periodic price rebalancing through an ACCC review and amendments to clarify the ACCC can have a role in overseeing product withdrawals and new products as well as their prices.

"An SAU varied in line with the ACCC's proposals would provide considerable certainty to NBN Co that it will be able to recover the prudent costs of its investment, subject, of course, to demand for its services meeting expectations. NBN Co's assets would not be subject to revaluation once the NBN is built, and any changes to price structures would be revenue neutral," Sims said.

It did highlight some merits of the SAU including the prices set out were likely to allow a smooth transition from existing telecommunications networks; and long term commitments to not raise prices above the CPI-1.5 per cent.

Based on feedback, the consumer commission will issue a formal notice to NBN Co to make these changes in May.

If accepted, the SAU would be a key part of the framework that governs the price and other terms based on NBN Co's supply services over its fibre, wireless and satellite networks to telecommunications companies.

The ACCC's draft decision is available here.

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