The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced that it has completed its investigation into whether TPG’s fibre-to-the-basement rollout breach the ‘NBN level playing field provisions’ in the Telecommunications Act.

TPG plans to connect large apartment buildings in metropolitan areas to its existing fibre networks and to use fibre-to-the-basement technology to supply high speed broadband services to residents of those buildings. This has the potential to directly compete with the NBN.

The ACCC says that it does not intend to take any action to prevent TPG implementing its plans, having concluded that TPG’s planned rollout is permitted under the Telecommunications Act.

The ‘NBN level playing field provisions’ prohibit the use of networks other than the NBN to supply high speed broadband services to small business or residential customers, unless the network operator supplies on a wholesale basis only and is subject to open access obligations.

However, networks that were capable of being used to supply high speed broadband services to small business or residential customers as at 1 January 2011 are not caught by the level playing field provisions, provided they are not extended more than a kilometre from the network footprint as it was at 1 January 2011.

“Having carefully examined TPG’s plans, the ACCC does not propose to take further action in relation to TPG’s planned fibre to the basement network rollout to supply residential customers in high-rise buildings in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC has reached this decision based on information and evidence that TPG’s networks were capable of supplying superfast carriage services to small business or residential customers at 1 January 2011, and confirmation that TPG is not extending the footprint of these networks by more than one kilometre.”

“The ACCC will now conduct a declaration inquiry into whether a superfast broadband access service like the type to be provided by TPG over its fibre-to-the-basement networks should be the subject of access regulation. Amongst other matters, the inquiry will consider whether regulation is necessary to ensure that consumers in TPG connected buildings can benefit from competitive retail markets for high speed broadband services,” Mr Sims said.

In June 2014, the Vertigan Committee recommended that the ACCC should commence a public inquiry with a view to declaring vectored VDSL services.

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