Freeing up wireless broadband

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Back in September, Jerry Hausman and I stirred up some controversy regarding the Telstra/NBN agreement that would effectively crimp wireless broadband competition for two decades. Our submission to the ACCC, believed these provisions to be strongly anti-competitive. We wondered how the ACCC would react.

As it turns out, they didn’t have to. In its revised structural separation plan, Telstra dropped the “integral” wireless competition provisions. As the ACCC summarises:

Following the consultation period, Telstra and NBN Co revised the Wireless Promotion Restriction. The restriction has been amended to provide that Telstra must not promote wireless services as substitutable for fibre services where such promotion would be misleading or deceptive, or includes a false or misleading representation. The wording of the restriction now largely mirrors the relevant provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Basically, the anti-competitive elements were dropped and the existing law that protects firms from misleading representations by competitors was held to be sufficient protection in this context. Given that the previous conditions were, we were told, so critical, I wonder if the NBN’s commercial forecasts have been altered as a result.

That said, the migration inherent in the structural separation deal does limit the free movement of customers (something the ACCC admits). But this is an issue with the whole Telstra/NBN deal that saw the government ‘go for the money’ rather than provide the maximal conditions for competitive provision of telecommunications services. This is a pity but at least it is not nakedly anti-competitive for decades.

2 Responses to "Freeing up wireless broadband"
  1. I wouldn’t get too excited Joshua, my Telstra HFC (on which I am currently sitting at 29Mbps) is still being switched off, apparently.  Though the ACCC is yet to authorise Optus switching off its HFC in favour of NBN Co.  If the ACCC don’t allow it the Telstra deal may unravel as Telstra, I think, made it a condition on its deal with NBN Co.  

    Has there ever been a bigger test  for the Commission?

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