nbn co now has 20 RSP customers

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 14 August, 2017

nbn co now has 20 RSP customers

There are now 20 retail service providers directly connected to the nbn, with at least five groups acquiring wholesale services at 118 of the 121 points of interconnect for the network.

The ACCC’s latest quarterly Wholesale Market Indicators report shows that the number of access seekers for nbn co’s wholesale services has increased from 14 in 2015 to 20 by the end of June.

By the end of the report period, nbn co was supplying more than 2.51 million broadband wholesale access services, up by 21% from the March quarter.

The number of services connected via fibre to the node (FTTN) has meanwhile grown from 102,293 to 906,662 over the past 12 months, with the number of hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) connections growing from 14,551 to 153,371 over the past six months.

“As smaller operators achieve sufficient scale to directly connect with the nbn at a large number of POIs, they can better control the amount of CVC they allocate to their customers. This improves service levels for end users and increases the competitiveness of the market,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The ACCC’s report also indicates that the key metric of the average connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) capacity acquired per user has grown by almost 10% quarter-on-quarter.

CVC capacity is a key determinant of the end-user performance of an nbn connection. nbn co’s price model for this charge has been the subject of intense debate in recent weeks, with nbn co accusing retail service providers of failing to purchase sufficient capacity per customers with the service providers and other stakeholders countering that nbn co is pricing CVC capacity too high for service providers to sustainably offer high-speed nbn services.

The ACCC is currently consulting with industry about whether nbn co should be required to support further information relating to the amount of CVC capacity acquired and the utilisation of that capacity by each retail service provider.

While nbn co and retail service providers have been pointing fingers at each other during the CVC debate, telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has maintained that government policy is to blame. In new comments, Budde has argued that many of the current problems with the rollout stem from the fact that the nbn’s status as a national interest project goes against many of the very principles of conservative government.

“Conservatives don’t share the notion for government-driven national equality policies and would have preferred a more staggered market-driven approach with more limited support on an as-needed basis only,” he said.

But Telstra’s “relentless use of its monopolistic position” during 2005 and 2009 made this approach impossible at the time, and the prospect of further delays to the rollout prohibited the Coalition from selling the nbn off in 2013 to allow the private sector to take the reins, he said.

“The Australian government can’t just follow a commercially driven business model, as in that case it would have to reduce the rollout to, say, 50% of all Australians. The way the nbn is currently being rolled out — which would not be easy to change — means that the government will have to treat it as a national interest project and that as such some of the costs need to be seen as a social investment, similar to many other national infrastructure investments,” Budde said.

“The extra cost in building a national network based on government policies should not burden the commercial elements of the nbn — as it currently does, hence the many problems — as otherwise the price to the end users would simply become unaffordable for most of them. It is very clear that the Coalition politicians are struggling with this reality.”

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