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2014 review of retail broadband pricing

Every September, I review the ADSL2+ and corresponding NBN retail broadband plans to assess the state of price competition. Last year, I concluded that competition had stalled because ISPs were waiting to see realistic NBN wholesale prices and/or settling into a cosy oligopoly.

In the last 12 months, a couple of players (Exetel and TPG) have launched unlimited data plans; which may shake things up a bit. But, it wont help make the NBN more affordable – there are very users who want unlimited data.

To see the results, click Economuse 2014-09-23

How long will MTAS be necessary?

The ACCC regulates the price of terminating calls on mobile networks. The bottom-up cost model it has been using was built around technology that is old. It is rightly concerned that any new bottom-up cost model based base on 3G could soon become redundant when operators start to carry voice over 4G – which they will within the term of the pricing determination.
With 4G (where voice will be IP based) and the NBN, there is no need to distinguish between voice and data as all traffic is bytes. The tried and tested way of exchanging bytes is peering and transit – which are unregulated. There are no termination fees for voice and SMS now – if they are carried as bytes over apps like Skype and Whatsapp. In this emerging context, there is no need to model costs or to regulate termination.
In the short term, the ACCC is considering using “actual costs” to model costs from the top-down – which is the same as the Building Block Method (BBM) the ACCC is now using in the fixed network. That seems the best approach for now. But, when voice becomes data (4G), the ACCC can step aside and leave it to the market.

To read the opinion piece, click here: Economuse 2014-08-08

Knotted in net neutrality

The FCC is trying to untie legal knots that hinder its ability to promote and protect an open internet.

It stands by the three rules for net neutrality that it set in 2010. The notice issued on 17 May 2014 canvasses ways it hopes to ensure that its authority to impose rules on interne service providers is secure.

This column, published in Comms Wire on 20 May, explains how it is trying to achieve this and how it may – or may not – affect paid peering.

To read more see Economuse 2014-05-20

Fixed wireless, by-pass and affordability

NBN Co.’s fixed wireless and satellite programme is going to cost $1.7 billion more than expected. This raises the stakes in the issues of universal pricing and efficient by-pass.

There are several complementary methods which would help resolve these issues and this column looks at asset write-downs.

In the context of write-downs, the column also explains how a bigger issue for affordability than regional cross-subsidy (because all customers are affected) is a revenue claw-back scheme that the ACCC has sanctioned.

To read more go to Economuse 2014-05-12