Reform of the ‘level playing field’
rules will ensure that high-speed broadband network operators have separate
wholesale/retail businesses (subject to ACCC oversight), providing competition
and choice for consumers and investment certainty for network builders.
The Committee received 15 submissions and conducted a public
hearing, with a range of stakeholders representing regional Australia and
telecommunications consumers supporting the bills and calling on Parliament to
ensure they are passed.
The Senate Committee’s report and submissions to its inquiry
can be found on the Committee’s
For more information about the telecommunications reform
legislation package visit https://www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/internet/telecommunication-reform-package
Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS)
NBN’s fixed wireless and satellite networks provide critical
broadband services to regional and remote Australia, however these networks are
not commercially viable and are expected to incur losses of $9.8 billion over
Currently, funding for these networks is dependent on an
opaque internal cross-subsidy from NBN’s profitable fixed line networks in
The RBS is not a new cost for NBN users – it is already
built into existing NBN broadband prices today. The RBS simply makes NBN Co’s
internal cross-subsidy transparent instead of opaque, and creates a level
playing field by spreading this cost across all NBN-comparable networks.
It is estimated that 95% of the RBS will continue to be paid
for by NBN Co, whereas today it is 100%. The remaining 5% will be paid for by
competing NBN-comparable wholesale broadband networks.
Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) obligations
Today, the outdated Universal Service Obligation (USO)
provides every Australian with access to a voice-only standard telephone
service. The new SIP obligations will ensure that every Australian can access
high-speed broadband as the NBN is rolled out.
Under the SIP arrangements, NBN Co will have a legislated
obligation to connect premises to its network and supply wholesale high-speed
broadband services to retail service providers. The obligations will apply as
the NBN becomes ready for service in individual areas, and then across
Australia once the NBN is complete.
Other carriers will be able to be SIPs where appropriate
(for example in new developments).
SIPs will have to offer a standard wholesale broadband
service supporting peak speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.
These services will also have to support voice calls on fixed line and fixed
wireless networks (but not satellite).
The Minister will be able to set detailed performance
requirements, including in relation to reliability and connection/fault repair
‘Level playing field’ separation requirements
Changes to separation rules will ensure that superfast
broadband networks operate on a level playing field, providing competition and
choice for consumers and investment certainty for network builders.
The reforms will allow carriers to operate wholesale and
retail businesses on a functionally-separated basis (as opposed to the stronger
structurally-separated basis under the current laws), subject to ACCC oversight
The changes also remove existing separation rules for
networks servicing small businesses.