This article has been amended with a statement from the Office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy acknowledging the error.
update Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been caught out making a factually incorrect public statement about national broadband provider Internode, falsely claiming the company did not make a submission to the competition regulator’s 2010 inquiry into the number of points of interconnect (PoIs) the National Broadband Network would need.
On the ABC’s Inside Business program over the weekend, Conroy claimed Internode didn’t make a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s PoI review last year. The comments came in reaction to strident criticism of the NBN’s PoI and pricing model by Internode chief Simon Hackett (pictured) last week.
After this article was initially published, Conroy’s office issued the following statement on the matter: “Simon Hackett blogged on Friday that he had made a submission. The Minister accepts he made an error. (The interview yesterday was pre recorded on Friday morning.) The Government and NBN Co are working with the decision made by the ACCC.”
In a statement issued this afternoon, Hackett said Internode had been ringing the warning bell “early and often” on the matter of flawed NBN pricing for small providers. “Our submissions to the ACCC are on the public record on the ACCC website, so it is rather curious that the Senator is perpetuating this erroneous claim about our conduct in this context,” he said.
“We seek to correct the record and point out that Internode has been providing public submissions on this and related topics at every step along the process concerned, and it remains of deep concern to us that those warnings are being ignored – not only by the ACCC, but by the Minister being so convinced that this is a new issue that he has not actually bothered to look for evidence of our participation before making his erroneous claims.”
Hackett said Internode participated very closely in processes such as the NBN review.
“Internode customers are amongst the first ever connected to the NBN and we are highly engaged with the technical processes for all upcoming deployment stages of the network,” he said. “Indeed, it is this close participation that has served to highlight to us the critical nature of the flaws in the current pricing model for the network.”
Internode’s submission last year echoes many of the same complaints Hackett aired last week about the NBN pricing, principally revolving around the number of points of interconnect which ISPs will be required to connect to to be able to provide a national NBN service. The Internode chief believes the ACCC’s model of 120 PoIs will advantage large ISPs like Telstra and Optus and force smaller companies to buy services from wholesalers — not the NBN directly.
It’s a warning that Hackett has issued repeatedly — through the ACCC review process, and through several public blog posts, with the latest coming last week after a vibrant speech on the issue to the Communications Day Summit in Sydney.
Hackett has conducted further analysis on the issue over the past few months, particularly with regard to the ‘virtual circuit’ pricing required by NBN Co for ISPs to supply customers with services over its fibre — pricing which the Internode chief believes is too high.
Image credit: Internode