[LINK] ISOC-AU preparing submission on NBN

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Feb 22 09:01:54 AEDT 2011

The Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU) is preparing a submission to 
the NBN inquiry (due Thursday). Holly Raiche, Executive Director, has 
indicated the general approach intended and invited comment from 

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[ISOC-AU-mems] ISOC-AU comments on NBN Legislation
Date: 	Mon, 21 Feb 2011 21:53:05 +1100
From: 	Holly Raiche ...

HI Everyone

After discussion with several people on the issues involved, the
comments I am considering for our submission on the bills  (National
Broadband Network Companies Bill and Telecommunications Legislation
Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures-Access Arrangements)
Bill) are as follows:

In general, support both bills, with the following additional comments:

*In the NBN Co Bill*
Under the legislation, the Government can sell down its now 100% stake
in NBN Co within 5 years of when the NBN is fully built and operational.
Under amendments proposed by the Greens, the sale could only take place
after a Parliamentary inquiry.  Under amendments proposed by the
Opposition, the sale could proceed before NBN is complete and operational.
ISOC-AU has not, to date, had strong views about Government ownership of
NBN Co.  However, since 1997 and open competition, the history of the
provision of services to rural and remote Australia has not been
outstanding.  The suggestion is that we support Government ownership of
NBN Co at least until the NBN is operational.

The Bill also provides that NBN Co will not be a public authority (and
therefore not subject to FOI legislation).  Both the Greens and
Opposition are proposing an amendment that would make NBN Co subject to
FOI legislation.  The suggestion is that, since NBN Co is wholly
Government owned, it should be subject to FOI legislation.  If there are
matters that are commercially sensitive, there are provisions in that
legislation for their protection.

The Opposition is proposing to add a clause that would prohibit an NBN
corporation from supplying an eligible service 'that is higher than
Layer 2 ' in the OSI Reference Model.  The suggestion is that we should
not support this amendment for two reasons.  The first is practical -
NBN Co may want to provide Layer 3 services for satellite services.  But
more generally, we should not be legislating for specific technologies.

*Access Arrangements Bill*
Generally, NBN Co (indeed, all NBN Companies) are covered by
non-discriminatory provisions.  However, one of the grounds for an
exception is  if the discrimination 'aids efficiency", as long as all
access seekers in similar circumstances can benefit from the same
treatment.  The Explanatory Memorandum adds: The concept of efficiently
is intended to be read broadly and to facilitate normal business options
such as offering volume-based discounts, passing on savings arising from
capital investments, discrimination based on risk sharing, discounts in
response to competitive circumstances, migration incentives and other
efficiencies.  The suggestion is that 'efficiency' is too broad a word
to be used on its own, and that if is to be retained, it should be
followed by examples that serve to confine its use by further definition
or by way of examples as to what the term means in context.

*General comment*
Some comments that have been made to me suggest concern that, with NBN
Co only providing Layer 2 services, the smaller players will be
obtaining services from aggregators - and that the few larger service
providers will be both aggregators for the smaller players and then
competing against them - in effect, reinstating vertical integration by
a few, one layer up.  There is nothing specific in legislation that is
relevant, but what would be possible is to insert, possibly into the
access arrangements bill, a call for an ACCC review of the competitive
environment within a few years of the beginning of the construction of
the NBN.

Any and all thought welcome - the submission is due Thursday

Kind regards

Holly Raiche
Executive Director,
Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU)
ed at isoc-au.org.au <mailto:ed at isoc-au.org.au>
Mob: 0412 688 544
Ph: (02) 9436 2149
/The Internet is For Everyone/

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra
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