SENATOR THE HON FIONA NASH
MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS
12 December 2016
The Coalition Government today released draft legislation to strengthen the provision of superfast broadband infrastructure for public consultation.
The draft legislation sets out provisions to:
establish the Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) to sustainably fund the long term costs of regional and remote Australia’s National Broadband Network satellite and fixed wireless networks;
improve the competitive framework that superfast broadband infrastructure providers operate within; and
formalise the Government’s commitment to ensuring all Australian premises can access a superfast broadband connection through the Statutory Infrastructure Provider regime.
These reforms will provide a strong structural framework for superfast broadband.
For more information about the reform package, supporting documents and to make a submission visit: https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say.
Consultation on the draft legislation is open until 3 February 2017. The Government intends for the legislation to commence from 1 July 2017.
The reforms implement key aspects of the Government’s policy response to the NBN Market and Regulation Report conducted by the National Broadband Network Panel of Experts (the Vertigan Review). The design of the RBS has been informed by the final report of the Bureau of Communications Research on funding regional Australia’s access to superfast broadband.
Regional Broadband Scheme
Regional and rural users of nbn’s fixed wireless and satellite services will benefit from the RBS which will require all eligible fixed-line superfast broadband networks to make a proportionate contribution to the long-term cost of these services.
The RBS is estimated to raise around $40 million from eligible non-nbn networks in its first year. Non-nbn fixed-line networks are currently estimated to provide 10 per cent of fixed-line services in operation. nbn, as the largest network, will continue to be responsible for the overwhelming majority of funding for regional and rural services and will make around 90 percent of RBS contributions.
The eligibility requirements for networks to contribute to the RBS are set out in the draft legislation and may be amended in future years as broadband technologies evolve.
Statutory Infrastructure Provider
The introduction of a SIP regime will guarantee that all people in Australia, no matter where they live or conduct their business, will have access to high-speed broadband. Under the arrangements, nbn will be the default SIP for all of Australia, although other carriers will be able to be SIPs where appropriate. SIPs will be required to connect premises to high speed broadband following a reasonable request from a retail service provider.
Improving the competition framework
The package will also establish new wholesale and retail rules for superfast networks (other than the NBN) to improve commercial opportunities and bolster competition. The package will protect the interests of consumers by preventing anti-competitive behaviour and put downward pressure on broadband prices.
Consultation on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer) Bill 2017 and Telecommunications (Regional Broadband Scheme) Charge Bill 2017 exposure drafts is open until 3 February 2017. The Government intends for the legislation to commence from 1 July 2017.
NBN Market and Regulation Report conducted by the National Broadband Network Panel of Experts 1 October 2014 https://www.communications.gov.au/publications/nbn-market-and-regulatory-report
The Government’s Telecommunications Regulatory and Structural Reform Policy (December 2014) can be found here: https://www.communications.gov.au/sites/g/files/net301/f/Telecommunications_Regulatory_and_Structural_Reform_Paper_-_11_December_….pdf.
Bureau of Communications Research (Department of Communications and the Arts) inquiry into funding nbn’s non-commercial services
Initial consultation, May 2015: https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/nbn-non-commercial-services-funding-options
Final consultation, October 2015: https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/final-consultation-nbn-non-commercial-services-funding-options
Final report, March 2016: https://www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/bureau-communications-research/resources