Aussie commission OKs deal between NBN Co, Singtel Optus

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has approved a deal between NBN Co. and Singtel Optus to move customers from the telco's cable network onto the country's National Broadband Network (NBN), despite expressing concerns about the anti-competitive nature of the deal.

Additionally, the agency said Optus could decommission parts of its HFC network as part of its arrangement with Australia's second largest telecom company. In making the decisions, the ACCC said it was "satisfied that the public benefits outweighed any public disadvantage" that might arise, according to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"In coming to its final view the ACCC took account of a substantial amount of public and confidential information in addition to submissions received from interested parties in response to the draft decision," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement covered by the newspaper. "The ACCC remains of the view that the public benefits, which are clear and quantifiable, on balance outweigh the likely detriment."

According to the ACCC, the public will benefit because Optus can avoid the operating cost of its HFC network to provide a duplicative service to the NBC. It would also lower the cost of migrating customers from the telco's network to the NBN. Those benefits, the agency said, outweighed "shutting down a potentially significant fixed line competitor to the NBC in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne," the news story said.

Another contributing factor to the decision is that the Optus HFC network footprint was unlikely to extend beyond its current 1.4 million homes and the telco was unlikely to invest any great sums to offer faster products on that network which, it conceded "would become uneconomic to operate once a significant number of customers were lost to the NBN.

"The ACCC has looked at these issues closely, both at the draft and final determination stages, and there are unique reasons to conclude that the detriments are likely to be considerably less than usually expected," Sims said.

For more:
- the Sydney Morning Herald has this story

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