25Mbps does not qualify as ‘very fast broadband’: WA govt

State government calls for CVC construct to be dumped, NBN’s monopoly in regional areas to be relaxed

The Western Australian government has called for changes to the statement of expectations that governs the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

The current statement of expectations was issued by the federal government to NBN in August 2016.  The statement sets as a key goal of the NBN rollout “ensuring that all Australians have access to very fast broadband”. Fulfilling that goal will include providing peak wholesale download speeds of 25 megabits per second for all premises and at least 50Mbps for 90 per cent of fixed-line premises “as as soon as possible”.

“nbn should ensure that its wholesale services enable retail service providers to supply services that meet the needs of end users,” the statement of expectations says.

However, the WA government argues that the 25Mbps minimum “does not allow for future expected demand growth, with global competition constantly increasing and technology developments constantly improving service standards”.

Already 100Mbps and 1Gpbs services are being widely deployed in other countries, the state government said in a submission to a federal inquiry examining the NBN rollout in regional and rural areas.

Large swathes of WA rely on NBN’s Sky Muster service for connections to the new network. Currently Sky Muster services offer a maximum speed of 25Mbps.

Rolling out faster broadband services across regional WA would offer a significant to productivity and access to services, the WA government argued.

The WA government has also called for the dumping of NBN’s Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) pricing construct. Retail service providers (RSPs) pay two key charges for NBN services: CVC, which is a capacity-based charge, and AVC, which is an access charge levied for each connection.

“A new model should focus on an approach that motivates the uptake of the highest achievable network speeds for all and permits near 100 percent network utilisation,” the WA government argued.

CVC “actively discourages full utilisation of [NBN’s] infrastructure”.

(NBN recently launched new pricing options for RSPs that combine access and bandwidth fees, bundling a small amount of CVC with each service.)

The WA government made a number of other recommendations that would have a major impact on the rollout and operation of the new network, including ditching fibre to the node (FTTN) in favour of more fibre to the premises (FTTP) and fibre to the curb (FTTC) and relaxing rules that largely protect NBN from fixed-line competition.

Exemptions on the restrictions on rolling out competing infrastructure “should be provided to regional, rural and remote areas, which would permit third party providers deploying fixed line infrastructure, without regard to existing NBN Co infrastructure,” the government argued.

The full submission is available online.

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