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ACCC Report Outlines Telstra “Head Start” Concerns In NBN Rollout

A report released today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) outlines its concerns with regard to commercial agreements between Telstra and NBN Co related to Telstra’s role in building parts of the NBN.

The report addresses potential competition issues raised by commercial agreements between Telstra and NBN Co, outlining ACCC “concerns the agreements may give Telstra a ‘head start’ in connecting customers to NBN HFC broadband services”.

The ACCC notes that the agreements could give Telstra “preferential service activation and/or repair of NBN broadband services for its own customers, and greater insight than its competitors into the NBN rollout”.

The service delivery agreements cover supply of network activation and assurance services and network planning, design, construction and construction management services, amongst other things.

“NBN Co and Telstra have said that one of the benefits of these commercial agreements is that it will facilitate a faster rollout of the NBN, which the ACCC acknowledges, but we also recognise that there are potential competition implications and the effect of these on end users is just as important,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims commented.

The ACCC stated that it will continue to monitor a number of measures agreed to by NBN Co and Telstra, which it considers will mitigate the potential risks to competition, including making NBN HFC connections available to all service providers simultaneously.

The measures also include NBN Co setting priorities on activation and repair work it allocates to Telstra, requiring Telstra to follow those priorities and de-identifying work orders from other retail service providers, and Telstra providing “white label” activation and repair services to NBN Co, with Telstra requiring its field workforce to follow non-discrimination rules when attending end-user premises.

“The ACCC is pleased at the progress made to date in terms of these agreements, but there’s still work to do to address our remaining concerns,” Sims commented.

“We will continue to monitor the relationship between NBN Co and Telstra, and ensure that Telstra’s contracts with NBN Co do not give it an advantage over its competitors in providing superfast broadband services over the NBN.”

The report can be accessed here.

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