For a detailed industry examination as part of regulated price review.
Retail service providers looking to create a new model for NBN pricing and cost recovery have asked NBN Co for a series of data to advance their work.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC) said the request was made at a meeting on August 19, the notes for which were released only Friday last week. [View PDF]
RSPs have wanted an analysis of NBN Co’s costs for several years, but so far have been frustrated in their attempts to access the numbers.
Data points from NBN Co are critical to understanding key issues such as whether the costs of building the network are still “efficient” or “ineffective” and how NBN services can be measured in the future to meet the needs of the industry and customers, in addition to the needs of NBN Co and its shareholders.
NBN Co argues that it is in fact recovering its costs below, which means it should probably charge even more, rather than less.
It is not yet clear whether NBN Co’s data would allow RSPs to prove their position, but RSPs have asked NBN Co to produce it anyway.
The ACCC said that at the August 19 meeting, “a request from participants was submitted to include a list of indicators from NBN Co that should be shared with the members of the working group in order to advance the discussions.”
“The requested data included information on the regulated asset base (RAB), rate of return, demand forecasts, operating expenses and capital expenditure forecasts, asset useful life, ICRA forecasts and utilisation,” the committee said.
The RAB and ICRA are existing mechanisms that are used to account for the costs incurred by NBN Co and the value of the broadband providers assets.
Additions to them are reviewed annually by the ACCC, although RSPs have limited visibility of their makeup.
The ACCC said participants “noted that the timely delivery of data is essential for the working group to be able to complete its work well before negotiating a new wholesale access agreement.”
However, currently no date has been set when NBN Co could produce the required data.
“NBN Co will have the opportunity to present this data to working group members at a later time with appropriate confidentiality requirements,” the ACCC noted.