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In-depth: Summary of NBN regulatory submissions
- — 04 July, 2008 10:53
The federal government published this week submissions it had invited from industry players, public interest groups and concerned individuals on regulatory issues associated with the National Broadband Network process.
The government received no less than 80 submissions from a broad range of participants including major telco providers, ISPs, disability access groups, telecommunications consumer and industry groups, telco experts, academics and individuals.
Computerworld explored each submission and here we provide you with the key points outlined in each proposal from the major players. In most cases, the views are lifted verbatim from the submission.
"Some argue that the NBN provides an opportunity to impose yet more regulation, such as separation. However, it is inconceivable that such a large, risky project as the NBN could be successfully undertaken facing even more regulation than applies to today's fixed network, which was rolled out long before regulation came along.
We need new thinking focused on the fundamental issue: how do we create an environment that enables the NBN operator to earn a rate of return on its investment commensurate with the risk of the project while also ensuring open access and while meeting the social equity goals for the NBN?"
Telstra claims the ACCC has comprehensively failed to make any adjustment to its thinking to reflect the profound changes that come with a NBN. "Its blueprint for next generation network regulation, set out in the G9 SAU Draft Decision, looks more like a 'drag'n'drop' from the legacy PSTN world, including positions OfCom has rejected as outmoded for a next generation world.
"The ACCC treats the transition to FTTN as its chance to achieve the 'fixes' it has been advocating for problems it perceives with competition in the current legacy world. If the ACCC had taken a more forward looking, open minded approach, it would have seen (as Ofcom did) that many of the perceived problems will either be resolved or irrelevant in a next generation world, and that a whole set of new challenges will instead demand regulatory attention."
AAPT put its submission to the Minister as an access seeker to the NBN, calling the current regulatory framework one of "significant anti-competitive conduct, gaming and uncertainty." AAPT said Telstra's refusal to accept arbitral outcomes regarding wholesale price of ULLS and LSS has lead to greater costs to access seekers and in turn higher costs for consumers.
Primarily AAPT is calling for a level flaying field in which the NBN owner will provide products and services on a truly equivalent basis so that access seekers are receiving the same wholesale products, at the same time, at the same prices, and using the same processes to acquire these products and services. This means maximizing traffic on the network in order to recover investment costs and reduce prices for consumers.
AAPT also cast doubt over the ACCC's ability to enforce a level playing field. It called for more resources and power for the watchdog, whose chairman Graeme Samuel admitted before a Senate hearing that the current operational separation of Telstra and arbitral processes were not conducive to effective competition.
Ultimately, AAPT is calling for the structural separation of Telstra, as "regulation alone of what will continue to be a monopolistic market structure is not sufficient and structural remedies are required".
"The focus of this submission is deliberately directed at the reforms that would need to be made to the regulatory framework should Telstra be chosen to construct and operate the NBN. That is, it consciously contemplates the "worst case scenario" for competition. Optus makes no apologies for this approach. It reflects our overriding concern that the new regulatory regime must be robust enough to withstand the serious threat to competition posed by an NBN operator which is also the dominant provider of retail voice and broadband services to consumers. It also reflects our belief that fundamental reform to the regulation of fixed line services is required regardless of whether the NBN proceeds - a position which is consistent with the emerging trend in many other jurisdictions.
"The experience of the last eleven years has demonstrated that a vertically integrated, non-separated Telstra, simply has too much market power and it will always use this to undermine competition. In an NBN environment with limited opportunities for facilities based competition that market power is likely to be significantly enhanced. The existing provisions under Part XIB of the Act have failed to constrain Telstra to date and they are thoroughly ill-suited to an NBN environment. Government must, therefore, deal with the issue of market power at its source. This requires structural separation."