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NBN: the more you look, the worse it gets

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Luke Hartsuyker MP

Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Shadow Minister for Youth and Sport Federal Member for Cowper

Media Contact: Greg Pierce 02 66 52 62 33 0408 532 785 Canberra: 62 77 4447

December 7, 2010

NBN: The more you look, the worse it gets

Julia Gillard must guarantee that regional consumers are not disadvantaged by Government plans allowing NBN Co to offer different deals to Internet Service Providers, Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker said today.

Mr Hartsuyker said Labor is finding the National Broadband Network’s commercial viability won’t stack up unless NBN Co offers differential terms of access to different ISP’s.

“Despite Labor’s promise of uniform wholesale prices across Australia, it is becoming clear that smaller ISP’s may not receive the favourable access terms provided to larger telcos. Ultimately, this can only lead to increased prices for regional broadband consumers.

“The total package that NBN Co offers its ISP customers is important because it is vital that equivalent services be provided at an equivalent price to customers large and small.

“We already know that the NBN Companies Bill released in the last week of Parliament will allow differential terms in such circumstances where risks are shared between the ISP and NBN Co, and where there is a reduction in NBN Co’s direct costs as a result of differing technology requirements.

“These provisions will clearly benefit the big telcos operating across Australia such as Telstra and Optus, at the expense of smaller, regional service providers.

“Now we are learning that NBN Co is working on proposals to charge internet retailers a higher price where they are forced onto the NBN and unable to offer their services through other means, such as wireless.

Mr Hartsuyker said that Labor’s NBN may force smaller competitors out of business if the costs of accessing the network are too high, and this will reduce competition.

“A lack of competition will only lead to higher broadband charges for regional consumers. This has been highlighted by competition and consumer law expert Professor Frank Zumbo.

“Julia Gillard and her Labor Government must guarantee this won’t be the case and regional consumers and ISP’s won’t be disadvantaged under the NBN and that regional consumers will not pay more.”  Ends