Labor’s Spokesperson for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones has welcomed moves by the ACCC to ensure there is greater transparency around network issues in the provision of broadband services by the NBN.
The question I have been repeatedly asking is this – should the NBN be required to provide retail service providers with known technical limitations in specific or individual premises serviced by its network either as a class or as an individual premise serviced by its network? And should RSPs be required to give that information to customers?
As a result this questioning I have been pursuing with the ACCC and others at hearings of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband, the ACCC has just written to inform me that it will now consult with industry to ensure that:
- NBN Co should advise its access seekers of known impairments and limitations of its services that have implications for the speeds that retailers can supply over the NBN;
- this information should be provided on a per premise basis where the impairment/limitation is specific to the premise, for example, due to a long copper loop, or otherwise by technology where that is a limiting factor (such as for satellite connections generally); and
- consumers should be informed of the factors that are likely to affect the performance of their broadband service and therefore their purchasing decisions.
In taking this step, the ACCC will ensure that Australians on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s copper Fibre-to-the-Node NBN, will for the first time have full disclosure of the impediments in the network in their own street that affect their service, such as speed and reliability before they purchase a broadband plan.
This new transparency is welcome because until now, RSPs have been selling broadband plans to customers that the NBN network is not capable of delivering, primarily due to the limitations of the copper network.
It is clear to me that NBN have been trying their best to shield Mr Turnbull from the consequences of his disastrous decision to rely on copper to the home.
With the ACCC’s decision to take action by requiring the disclosure of network impairments, there will be nowhere to hide on the consequences of Mr Turnbull’s NBN decisions.
Until now, Coalition MPs – particularly in regional towns – have been trying to pass the buck on NBN network issues. When customers have complained about their disappointment with the NBN, they have blamed retail service providers – when it is often the case that the problem lies with the aged copper network.
Labor has always argued that the copper network was unfit for a modern broadband capacity – which is the reason why Labor planned a new fibre optic broadband network reaching into every home and business across 93% of Australia.
My correspondence between ACCC and excerpts from the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband.