news The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has expressed concerns around Telstra’s involvement in the rollout of the NBN network, saying it poses a threat to competition.
Recognising that using Telstra’s technical expertise is likely to contribute to a faster rollout of the NBN, the ACCC said it remains “concerned that competition issues arise from agreements that involve Telstra in the construction and maintenance of the NBN”.
The commission’s concerns include the HFC Delivery Agreement announced yesterday, it added.
In the announcement, the NBN company said it would pay Telstra about $1.6 billion over the next four years to upgrade and extend its HFC cable network as part of the National Broadband Network.
Eventually about a third of Australians are expected to receive NBN services over the HFC cable networks.
Under the new arrangement, Telstra is to carry out the design, part of the construction and the construction management of the remaining work required to extend the NBN network to around three million premises currently in the footprint of Telstra’s HFC cable network.
“We have raised several concerns with Telstra and NBN Co, including that Telstra may receive a competitive advantage if it has access to better information than other service providers or if it is able to use infrastructure built for the NBN network before that infrastructure becomes available to other retail service providers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC said it has had “extensive and productive” discussions with NBN and Telstra, seeking to address the issues that could arise because of Telstra’s role in providing design, engineering, procurement and construction management services to NBN under the HFC plan.
NBN and Telstra recently provided a set of proposals aimed at addressing these concerns, the commission acknowledged.
“We are looking at the parties’ proposals carefully to consider to what extent these proposals address our concerns,” said Sims.
“It is important that Telstra doesn’t get a head-start selling retail services over the NBN just because its technical expertise is being used in the construction and maintenance of the NBN,” he concluded.
Image credit: ACCC