The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued NBN Co with a formal warning for discriminating between retail service providers (RSPs).
The ACCC found that from January 2018 NBN CO had been offering different commercial terms to certain retailers when it came to the supply of upgraded infrastructure for business customers.
It also found that the company had given indicative pricing information of its new Enterprise Ethernet service months before providing that information to other ISPs. Despite referring to the breach as "serious" there will be no fine for NBN Co's conduct from the ACCC.
NBN Co publicly announced its wholesale business-grade and services offerings in June 2018. These targeted RSPs that service large corporations and well as government entities.
Enterprise Ethernet was one of these services, which supports the same data speed and quantity going in both directions. NBN Co's existing Ethernet TC‑2 service was also included.
Both of these services are regulated under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA), which prevents discrimination between "access seekers" when supplying services or engaging in activities that relate to the supply.
By offering different terms and staggered information release to different RSPs, NBN Co found itself in direct violation of the CCA.
"The ACCC has concluded that NBN Co failed to comply with its non-discrimination obligations on a number of fronts," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in an ACCC release.
"These legal obligations were enacted to ensure that NBN Co does not distort competition in the market for retail NBN services, such as by favouring larger RSPs."
Fortunately, the ACCC has stated that it didn't find any evidence of "harm or competitive detriment".
“Market feedback suggests that NBN Co’s entry into the wholesale enterprise market has increased competition, particularly in areas where Telstra is the only other fixed-line infrastructure provider,” Mr Sims said.
“Despite this, the ACCC is satisfied that NBN Co’s conduct amounted to a serious breach of its non-discrimination obligations. The undertaking we have accepted from NBN Co is intended to ensure that all access seekers can compete on an equal footing going forward.”
NBN Co admitted to a lack of adequate compliance processes and is abiding by the warning, agreeing to provide consistent contract terms and timed information to its customers.
"NBN Co welcomes the clarity and certainty provided by the undertaking agreed with the ACCC. The undertaking helps give certainty to both NBN Co and the market about the way we build our network and how Australian businesses can benefit," said an NBN Co Spokesperson.
"Providing competitive offerings to help meet the needs of business has always been part of NBN Co’s intent. The outcomes that we have agreed with the ACCC provide a transparent platform which confirms NBN Co’s crucial role in the business segment. In fact, we’re now even better placed to deliver value for the industry and for business customers."