Alcatel-Lucent's submission examines the different degrees of separation that have occurred in the national telecommunications networks of various European countries, concluding that there is no one clearly proven or preferable model of separation. Unlike many of Telstra's Australian competitors, Alcatel-Lucent does not explicitly call for any form of separation of Telstra, stating that "the most advanced implementation of separation, that of the UK, provides no evidence that separation has accelerated or facilitated investment in Next Generation Access". However, it contends that the design and implementation of a future proof, resilient and reliable NBN will be impeded by the distraction surrounding unresolved separation speculation.
Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG)
ATUG's submission on regulatory issues is based on Member Forums, conference discussions and on its assessment of global developments and trends. Like Alcatel-Lucent, ATUG is calling for clear policy objectives for the NBN regulatory framework that must include the long-term interests of end users. Affordability and accessibility to all Australians is of paramount importance. Regulation must support cost effective building of the NBN, and to promote effective competition which is the "strongest tool for delivering affordable prices... Only designs that promote competition should be accepted".
ATUG calls for clear separation between wholesale and retail units, and the creation of "a new pro active facilitating and oversighting independent body, NBN Australia, with the task of implementing the Open Access and Equivalence Frameworks for Australia's NBN as well as establishing appropriate consumer safeguards".
Communications Alliance (CA)
Australia's peak telecommunications industry body said Australia should be "striving for the realisation of a time when broadband is as common and easy as turning on the light switch at home. A time where download and upload speeds are irrelevant - it just works. A time where broadband infrastructure is as essential and integrated in the home as electricity, water and gas."
CA called for an open access network with a regulatory framework that promotes competition for consumers and access seekers alike. "Consumer protections and safeguards are important. There is significant scope to reform consumer policy framework in Australia. Communications Alliance supports the development of a national generic consumer law and a review of industry specific consumer regulation that would consider harmonisation where appropriate... The National Broadband Network should not impose overly burdensome compliance costs on industry. We consider that there is considerable scope to reduce red tape and streamline regulatory compliance while still implementing and effective and efficient regulatory regime. The National Broadband Network presents an opportunity to review unnecessary and outdated regulation."
"Structural separation is the only way to remove incentives for the proponent (Terria) to engage in anti-competitive discrimination or cross-subsidisation in downstream markets. Structural separation ensures that the proponent has an appropriate incentive to make a reasonable return on its investment in the NBN as a standalone investment by maximising utilisation of the NBN rather than inhibiting, preventing or deterring competition by those who compete with its downstream interests. It also provides an appropriate incentive for the NBN owner to respond to access seeker demand for products and allow them to innovate and compete. Operational separation and/or ring fencing rules and imputation tests can assist in reducing these incentives, but experience has shown that they cannot effectively remove them."
The summary objectives of the NBN regulatory environment must include structural separation between any access provider and all access seekers, as it is unreasonable to expect a listed corporate entity to put the interests of its competitors, the broader industry or government policy ahead of its fiduciary obligations to its shareholders. The independent owner/operator of the NBN must have its own corporate structure responsible for building maintaining and repairing the NBN, with a CEO who reports solely to and directly to the Board of the NBN. A NBN Access Guarantee Board should be established to monitor report and advise on the delivery of the genuinely open access network with a specific focus on the provision of equivalency of access.
iiNet also called for streamlined and strengthened dispute resolution, as the existing regulatory regime has a number of shortcomings which are easily identified by parties wishing to 'game' the regime. This has resulted in, for example nine years of dispute over the cost of the regulated ULL service, with no conclusion in sight for even the most basic commercial term - the price. All parties must have incentives to conclude negotiations quickly and reasonably priced. Transitional arrangements are essential and should be aimed at meeting public policy objectives rather than shoring up anti-competitive structures. Migration to an NBN should not be enforced prior to five years from the commencement of NBN services in a given location.