ACCC Gives Draft Approval For Optus, NBN Co Deal
The arrangements involve the progressive migration of Optus’ HFC subscribers to the new multi-technology mix NBN, while parts of Optus’ HFC network are integrated into the NBN, with the revised agreements forming part of a broader transaction between the parties involving the acquisition of Optus’ HFC assets, the ACCC advised.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims stated that the ACCC “accepts that in the absence of the revised arrangements, NBN Co and Optus would continue to operate under the terms of their original agreement”, as was authorised in 2012.
“The ACCC concluded that it would not have exercised its discretion to initiate a revocation process for the existing authorisation having regard to the need for regulatory certainty and its view that the balance of benefits and detriments identified by the ACCC in 2012 was not likely to have changed, despite policy and technological changes since then,” Sims commented.
“This is because Optus would still be unlikely to invest in significant upgrades of its HFC network in order to provide infrastructure-based competition beyond the short-to-medium term. This means that Optus would cease to be a network competitor to NBN Co in any event and so little, if any, additional public detriment is generated by the revised arrangements.”
The ACCC has stated that it accepts that the revised arrangements are likely to deliver some benefits to the public, including allowing NBN Co to access the fibre components of Optus’ HFC network and avoiding inefficient investment in additional distribution fibre on those parts of the multi-technology NBN.
Other benefits include providing consumers with a greater choice of service providers and access to a greater range of broadband products sooner than they otherwise would have, and facilitating less disruptive customer migration to the NBN, the ACCC stated.
“The ACCC acknowledges the revised arrangements form part of a broader proposal for NBN Co to acquire Optus’ HFC network assets, and that utilising existing HFC infrastructure in rolling out the NBN is likely to generate cost savings,” Sims commented.
NBN Co has welcomed the draft decision.
“Today’s decision is yet another significant step that enables NBN to deliver better broadband to every Australian as soon possible and at the least possible cost,” NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow stated.
“The agreement between NBN and Optus delivers clear benefits to families and businesses. We are pleased to see that the initial view of the ACCC is the same.”
The ACCC is seeking submissions from NBN Co and interested parties before making a final decision in August/September.