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Telcos Accuse NBN Of Profiteering From Lockdowns

The country’s telcos have banded together to accuse NBN Co of “failing its social responsibilities” by not providing additional capacity during the ongoing pandemic.

Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vocus and Aussie Broadband sent a scathing letter to NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue yesterday, accusing the company of putting profits before their civil duty.

“We are thankful for the relief that NBN Co has provided in the past. However, now is not the right time to pull back on the levels of support NBN Co has provided for previous lockdowns, and now is not the right time to profit from Covid-driven increases in consumer demand,” the letter reads.

“The level of ‘relief’ offered by NBN Co for the current lockdowns is insufficient, and the rebates do not come anywhere close to covering the increases in wholesale costs paid by telecommunications providers to NBN Co.”

NBN Co was widely criticised in July when it offered up a paltry $5.2m credit package to retailers, which was deemed insufficient.

“The environment has changed significantly since the Delta outbreak in Sydney and the resulting lockdowns that have occurred in almost every state and territory since June 2021 have led to unexpected and significant increases in usage,” the letter continues.

“Using the current baseline, these increases have not been accommodated and as such RSPs have been exposed to significantly increased CVC overage charges.”

An NBN spokesman fired back at the claims, saying: “It is unfair and unrealistic to expect Australian taxpayers to offer additional subsidies beyond what is already in place to support and underpin the profits of retailers,” explaining its additional investments and revenue reduction schemes have cost the company over $100 million.

“We have continued to support internet retailers during the Covid pandemic and have capped additional revenues at pre-Covid growth levels to ensure we are not taking advantage of Covid.”



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