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Canberra Plans $40m P.A. Impost On Regional BB

The Federal Government is looking to raise at least $40 million a year from non-NBN networks – like the one operated by TPG – via new legislation planned for the New Year.

It plans to establish a Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) to “sustainably fund the long-term costs of regional and remote Australia’s National Broadband Network satellite and fixed wireless networks”.

The draft legislation was published yesterday by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, and was immediately denounced by a number of Web sites as a new slug on consumers, who would inevit–ably be paying for the $40 million annual impost.

The RBS system would involve a monthly charge to telcos such as TPG, based on the number of users for its superfast broadband network which, in TPG’s case, is mainly rolled out to city users in high-rise apartment blocks.

Carriers would be required to pay the charge for each broadband service they have provided during at least part of a month on lines capable of providing download speeds of 25Mbps or more.

The provisions do not affect mobile broadband services, fixed wireless broadband services, satellite broadband services, exchange-based xDSL services or inactive superfast carriage services, Fifield stressed.

His department estimates that non-NBN fixed-line networks now provide around 10 percent of fixed-line services in operation

Fifield said NBN Co, as the largest network, would continue to be responsible for the overwhelming majority of funding for regional and rural services, making around 90 percent of RBS contributions.

According to Fifield, the new package will “protect the interests of consumers by preventing anti-competitive behaviour and put downward pressure on broadband prices.”

Consultation on the draft legislation will be open until February 3. The Government wants the legislation to commence from July 1, 2017.

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