Most ISPs sign NBN Co wholesale contract



news The National Broadband Network Company this morning revealed some 27 wholesale customers — generally retail Internet service providers, including major market players Telstra and Optus — had signed its permanent Wholesale Broadband Agreement that will shape the way they work with the company. However, at least one major ISP — iiNet, has reportedly refused to sign.

NBN Co’s WBA specifies the commercial arrangements and obligations between NBN Co and its customers. The details include verifying information about products supplied by NBN Co, locking in of existing prices, detailing of service level agreements and so on. Along with NBN Co’s Special Acces Undertaking document with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the document enshrines in a contract the way retail ISPs will work with NBN Co. The new WBA will be fully operational from 1 March 2014.

NBN Co’s Head of Regulatory Affairs and Industry Analysis, Caroline Lovell said in a statement: “The new WBA was achieved after two years of engagement with industry to develop terms of supply of NBN Co fibre-to-the-premises and wireless based services, and follows the ACCC’s acceptance of NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking.Significant progress has been made in the development and execution of NBN Co’s new supply arrangements and NBN Co thanks customers for their engagement in relation to the new WBA.”

The new WBA includes a range of enhancements for access seekers, according to NBN Co, as well as greater clarity and consistency. NBN Co said it would continue to engage with industry in 2014 as it implements the new WBA and works to further develop its terms in light of ongoing operational experience. NBN Co said that it also looks forward to working with industry to develop supply terms that may be required for the delivery of services using additional technology.

The development of NBN Co’s WBA has not been an easy process for NBN Co, with various major telco players, including Telstra and iiNet, signalling their displeasure with the document at various stages. In July 2013, for example, the nation’s number three fixed line telco iiNet has publicly threatened to walk away from its relationship with NBN Co, in a move which would mean NBN services would no longer be available through the telco.

“NBN Co needs us more than we need them and that is not portrayed in any way by their attitude,” said iiNet regulatory chief Steve Dalby at the time. “If nobody signs their [wholesale broadband agreement] and nobody agrees with their [special access undertaking] and they have no success as a business then they’re f—ed.”

Up until now, the telcos have been operating on the basis of an interim agreement with NBN Co which most signed in early 2012.

After the publication of this article, it was reported by iTNews (we recommend that you click here for that site’s article on this topic, it has a lot of detail on why iiNet has not signed) that at least one major NBN retail ISP, iiNet, had refused to sign the new WBA. The news is significant as iiNet has taken a large chunk of NBN connections thus far.


  1. Isn’t this all practically irrelevant now since the CBN is totally different from the NBN? Or is it only the end user who gets screwed over by Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition’s short-sighted stupidity?

    • It is still very relevant due to the fact that there is still substantial FTTP being deployed right now. In addition, I’m sure this document will eventually get modified to take into account the new CBN policy. It’ll have to — to deal with HFC and FTTN at a minimum.

      • How can you enshrine something you don’t own, manage, or even have access to? :)

        It’s conjecture to presume this would be the case, certainly in the short term.

        I get the impression if HFC is indeed used, it’ll end up spun out as a non-wholesaled product – in other words, infrastructure competition.

    • More a case of the statement made at the time was likely on the presumption no other ISP was likely to sign & sounded a lot like an ISP putting pressure on NBNco to sharpen the pencil.

      Not exactly surprising, really. :)

      Has iiNet been approached for comment on this, Renai? Or are we just presuming what was once said, is still the case?

      • In the iTNews article they do quote iinet talking about the CSG and who ends up paying as a big sticking point. Kinda makes sense actually.

        • CSG is important. The ACMA have said it’s so important that Telstra retail should pay $0.5m for failing to meet their CSG minimum of 90% by 1% point. They met 89%.

          NBN Co regularly fail to meet CSG targets by 10% or more. Their solution for avoiding the fine ? The WBA says that the RSPs will be responsible for meeting any CSG claims, resulting from NBN C’os failures.

          Would you sign on to that and accept the risk, given NBN Co’s appalling ability to meet delivery targets?

      • “Has iiNet been approached for comment on this, Renai?”

        iTNews has done a more than adequate job of that — I don’t usually feel the need to interview someone twice ;) If new developments come up I’ll ping iiNet. To be honest, however, you can probably just ask Steve Dalby for information directly — he usually reads relevent Delimiter comment threads. I’m sure he’ll cast his eye on this one at some point :)

    • >>I cant help but wonder ….

      Read the issues and wonder no more. We’ve never suggested our concerns were about price. They’re not.
      CommsDay covers it we’ll this morning.

      • I hope so Steve, I really do. I’m just worried that it may backfire and the public talk with their feet. I think you’re justified, but at the end of the day if iiNet is left as the sole key player unsigned, its iiNet that could suffer. I’ve worked with enough KPI’s to know that when the standard shows the expectations to be too high, the expectations are lowered accordingly. And thats the key part to my worry – if you’re the odd man out, you’ll be held to a different standard.

        I’m sure some very high level people in Vodaphone didnt realise how big a mistake they made until it was too late, and at that point being right wasnt much solace. I hope it doesnt come to that, and I expect it will all be sorted well before it becomes an actual issue, but if the issue does drag on, people may just jump ship to the competitors that do provide NBN services.

        CommsDay doesnt play well with my connection here at work, but I’ll read their story when I get a chance. I just hope you’re right, and this doesnt come back to bite iiNet. Best intentions dont always deliver the best results.

        • >> if iiNet is left as the sole key player unsigned

          Not sure why you’d say that. The news articles suggest that Macquarie and M2 are no-go and given that TPG is not obviously in the game, then maybe you are reading far too much between the lines.

          >> people may just jump ship to the competitors that do provide NBN services.

          I think you may have missed something. Not only do we provide NBN services, we are probably doing more than any other RSP. Arguing the toss over these detailed clauses doesn’t stop us from carrying on our business.

  2. Predictions IINET will launch their own FTTP rollout into selected areas.

    With the new NBN model. Its possible and stock market investors would like it

    • With the old model it was possible. There have been very minor legislative changes for the CBN. The only difference now is enhanced profitability because the competing product is FTTN or HFC, which will perform worse than your FTTP or FTTB offering.

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