iiNet wants more control over NBN speeds

NBN Co is currently offering five wholesale speeds on the NBN, but Steve Dalby said RSPs should be able to create their own plans

iiNet’s Steve Dalby has called for more control for RSPs on the NBN to create their own plans for the network based on different speeds and not just what NBN Co offers.

Chief regulatory officer at iiNet, Dalby said product designs should be the responsibility of service providers, not network providers.

“It’s the service provider that has the relationship with the users of the service and is closer to what they’re saying and need and want and are prepared to pay for,” he said.

Dalby's comments follow shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull suggesting upload speeds on the NBN would be a matter for RSPs after previously stating it would be an issue for NBN Co to decide.

The Coalition announced its alternative plan for the NBN in April, stating a “vast majority” of households would access speeds up to 50Mbps by 2019 under its broadband policy.

However, the Coalition has not revealed what upload speeds would be achieved on its version of the NBN.

During a debate hosted by OurSay and ZDNet, Turnbull said NBN Co would make commercial decisions about the ratio of download and upload speeds.

Turnbull later said on Twitter the “down/up ratio is a matter for the rsps but expect [it would] be 25/5, 50/10, 80/20 etc no tech obstacles”.

“I think implicit in what Mr Turnbull is saying is that things like the symmetry of the service should also be determined by the service providers,” Dalby said.

“Business services don’t necessarily want the same sort of design services that domestic residential users might want, so residential users might be quite asymmetric…

“[NBN Co] doesn’t really understand what the market wants, other than through secondhand information.”

NBN Co is currently offering five wholesale speeds on the network – 12/1Mbps; 25/5Mbps; 25/10Mbps; 50/20Mbps; and 100/40Mbps.

Dalby said it is possible to offer plans which differ from these speeds by purchasing access at the higher speed. For example, an RSP could buy 100Mbps off NBN Co and offer a 75Mbps plan to customers.

“But that’s just a nonsense to do that. We have no control over the performance characteristics of the plan, really, at all,” he said.

Offering different tiered speed plans could also become more important when NBN Co introduces its 1Gbps offering in December this year, particularly for businesses, according to Dalby.

“I think it would be better if they just offered a 1Gbps port and a 100Mbps port and just say to the RSPs, ‘there you go, you’re buying it wholesale, it’s up to you to design your own products and get them out into the market’,” he said, instead of being “forced” to sell plans which have been designed by NBN Co.

“Certainly Mr Turnbull’s comments are welcome. If the Coalition gets into government and if they decide to give direction to NBN Co along those lines, then we’d be pretty comfortable with that,” Dalby said.

“I’ve got to say, not all RSPs are capable of designing and offering a product of their own, so there may still be room for a pre-determined product, but for those that are capable of designing their own products and operating their own networks, then I think we’d prefer that.”

Dalby said he has previously raised the issue with NBN Co.

“Their response on most things is take it or leave it. They’re working to a political master … [and] those sorts of speeds are political decisions – they’re not NBN Co decisions … There is an opportunity for an incoming government to have a different view,” he said.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags Malcolm Turnbullnbn coNational Broadband Network (NBN)Steve Dalby

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