Australian telecom major Telstra’s $1.6 billion deal with NBN Co, for the rollout of the national broadband network, has triggered concerns of the competition regulator. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised certain issues on the deal, noting that Telstra “may receive a competitive advantage if it has access to better information than other service providers.”
On Monday, Telstra announced a deal for helping the NBN to build HFC or Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial in five state capitals and at Gold Coast.
Telstra had sold its network to NBN in 2014 and in the new deal it will be offering planning, design, and construction management to complete the HFC upgrade by 2020.
The HFC deal covers planning, design, construction and construction management services within Telstra’s existing network, reports Sky News.
The concern of ACCC is that Telstra will be able to use NBN infrastructure long before it is available to other competitors, chairman Rod Sims said.
“It is important that Telstra doesn’t get a head-start selling retail services over the NBN just because its technical expertise is being used in the construction and maintenance of the NBN,” he said.
However, Telstra played down such concerns.
‘Telstra has a long and proud history in network construction and we believe we will bring great expertise to this important part of the NBN network,’ Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said.
Telstra is already handling two contracts as NBN’s service provider. The deals signed in 2015 makes Telstra working with NBN on a 1000-node trial, including Fibre To The Node design and construction. The second deal pertains to design work under the planning and design services agreement.
Both NBN Co and Telstra responded with proposals to address ACCC’s concerns. The HFC deal covers Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide and the work will continue until 2020, reports The ABC.
In the HFC, Telstra will support the construction works within its exchanges while the field works will be left for NBN’s other partners.
Meanwhile, NBN said that the deal does not require the approval of ACCC.
“We continue to work closely with the commission and we are pleased that the ACCC recognises that the transaction will contribute to a quicker rollout of the NBN,” the spokesperson said, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.