The competition watchdog says the national broadband network sale has to be completed in a way that maximises competition in the communications market, not profit for the government, in any privatisation that follows the rollout.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday repeated calls for the NBN to be separated, saying privatisation of the network would provide an opportunity to deliver effective infrastructure-based competition.
‘This form of infrastructure-based competition would encourage ongoing investment in network upgrades and deliver price benefits and improved services to consumers over time,’ the ACCC said in the final report of its communications sector market study.
The ACCC said its view on the separation of the NBN, which currently has a final cost estimate of about $49 billion, comes following an independent cost-benefit analysis of broadband and review of regulation in 2014, which encouraged the split for infrastructure based competition.
‘We further stated that this should be done prior to privatisation, and that early systems, accounting and reporting arrangements should be put in place to ensure that separation is able to proceed in the future,’ the ACCC said.
In its report released on Thursday, the watchdog voiced its concern that if the government did not consider measures to help facilitate the split soon, it will become too costly, which could in turn deter the separation.
It recommended that the government continue planning for the breaking up of the NBN and ensure that measures are in place to enable separation into competing networks.
The ACCC study, which also suggested that the NBN Co should continue to review and adjust its prices, found that the markets for broadband and voice services are operating competitively under the current regulatory arrangements.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said competition will increase further as Vodafone expands its NBN footprint and rival telco TPG deploys its wireless network, bringing additional choice to consumers.