Competition regulator to probe NBN’s wholesale service standards

INQUIRY: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding a public inquiry into the NBN.
INQUIRY: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding a public inquiry into the NBN.

An inquiry by the competition regulator into the NBN is a positive first step, but won’t address the underlying issue according to a telecommunications specialist.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will probe whether the NBN’s service delivery is suitable or requires further regulation to improve users’ experiences.

Mid-state Communications owner Adam Irwin said the NBN was a utility and its main problem could be solved by either reducing or removing the wholesale charge internet service providers (ISPs) face.

Mr Irwin said for small ISPs to be profitable, they would skimp on bandwidth causing congestion for users at peak times.

“The problem with the NBN is looking at it from a commercial point of view rather than a service point of view,” Mr Irwin said.

“It should be all about delivering a service not getting a return on investment.”

Mr Irwin said people wouldn’t tolerate their lights dimming or appliances shutting off at peak times, “why is it okay for it to happen on the NBN?”.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the inquiry will focus on appropriate wholesale service standards and arrangements for compensation if standards aren’t met.

“We are very concerned about the high number of complaints from consumers around poor customer experiences, particularly in relation to customers connecting to NBN services and having faults repaired,” Mr Sims said.

“Many of these complaints relate to matters set out in wholesale service level standards. We will examine whether the service levels that are currently in place are appropriate and effective.

"This is important as what happens at the wholesale level often flows through to the retail level and affects customer experiences.”

An NBN spokeswoman said they would “work constructively with the ACCC”.

“We are pleased to see the broad focus of the inquiry on the entirety of the supply chain, including wholesale and retail service levels,” the spokeswoman said.