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Optus wants to change an NBN reform that could help give Telstra a monopoly

Australia’s second largest telco, Optus, is worried that Telstra could get a “first-mover” advantage if proposed changes to the Turnbull government’s NBN policy come into play.

In particular, an amendment to telecommunications laws that would no longer require the NBN to force a level playing field between providers when running trials or pilots.

Currently, when an internet provider wants to test a service, the NBN is required to to make the same technology or service available to everyone. If the new bill passes, that will change.

“The issue is given heightened sensitivity by the fact that NBN Co is in the process of ramping up customer migration and undertaking a significant shift to fibre to the node; both these objectives are highly dependent on NBN Co’s close co-operation and co-ordination with Telstra,” Optus has told a Senate inquiry into the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment.

“As the current owner of substantial components of the legacy infrastructure that NBN Co needs to access, Telstra has significant intellectual property that it could leverage to exploit a first-mover advantage in this migration period if discrimination is permitted by the proposed amendments.”

The proposed changes come off the back of the Vertigan review into the NBN which were released in 2014 after the Coalition commissioned several reviews of the network.

Other changes in the bill which aren’t opposed include improvements to the telecommunications access regime, allowing the NBN to dispose surplus assets and allow access-seekers to use in-building cabling.

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