NBN Bill passed, now for the loopholes

This week MPs stayed back from holiday to pass two NBN Bills, including amendments passed from the Senate. It says a lot, but misses out even more.

You can’t expect new legislation to become too prescriptive, especially in the changing world of telecommunications. That’s why legislation like this will always be worded carefully so that what is not said is more important than what is said.

In today’s Twisted Wire I look at what the NBN Bills stipulate and what’s left out:

  • It seems clear now that a big company, if it arms itself with a carrier licence, could have a direct retail relationship with NBN Co.
  • There is still a lot of confusion around provisions to avoid cherry picking. You’ll have to provide open access if you build last-mile fibre infrastructure, but what pricing restrictions will apply?
  • Despite the aim of pricing equity, NBN Co can discount prices and there seems little to suggest how this will be applied and controlled.
  • There is no requirement for NBN Co to offer more points of interconnect, even if local market conditions would suggest it was in the public interest.

To discuss these issues you’ll hear from a variety of people in this week’s Twisted Wire podcast:

  • Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher
  • Middleton’s lawyer Mark Feetham
  • ACCAN senior policy advisor Jonathan Gadir
  • ATUG managing director Rosemary Sinclair
  • Monash University’s Professor Stephen King

You can find Feetham’s summary of the changes here.

First published on ZDNet

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