nbn™ proposes satellite fees: rural customers lose out again

nbn™ has clarified some of the contents of the original post. The post has been updated in light of this new information.

As part of nbn™’s industry consultation on the Long Term Satellite Service launching next year, the company released a list of proposed charges for the satellite service to Access Seekers (service providers) for feedback last Friday. A summary table was released to the public this morning.

The table lists a number of new proposed charges, including a reactivation fee, installation, installer travel costs and a range of late or missed appointment fees.

Proposed incidentals charges for NBN Long Term Satellite
Table 2: showing some proposed charges for the NBN Long Term Satellite

Under the proposed charges, the company will charge the customer through the internet service provider an installation fee based on the distance the installer has to travel (charged at $1.40/km) and also pay an hourly rate for the time they spent driving and installing the equipment (at $98/hour). This is in contrast with nbn™’s current cost structure for the Fixed Wireless and Fixed-Line products where the installation is free for the customer.

Late cancellation fees and missed appointment fees also range from $150, $200 and $225 depending on the rural classification of the location.

The company also listed a number of additional charges that may be incurred, including Purchased Travel, Car Hire, Travel – FlightAccommodation, Equipment Rental and Other Expenses. They are to be charged at cost, by quotation.

edit: while this was not made clear in the public document, the above fees are only applicable for installations that “can’t reasonably be accessed by road, i.e. overseas territories”. It is understood that installations on mainland Australia will mostly still be free.

Also in their proposed charges, nbn™ is proposing to charge a $15 “Access Component Reactivation” fee to help “promote cost recovery on LTS”. This charge is expected to cover the costs incurred “on each occasion that an Access Component Reactivation occurs.” This is a fee that’s charged only when a customer re-connects to the NBN and not during their initial connection.

Access Seekers will have until 12th June 2015 to provide feedback about these charges. The company expects to launch the satellite service in early Q2 2016.

The full public summary table can be found here.

note: the following opinion piece was based on a previous understanding of the proposed fees and charges. Since this has been clarified, the opinion may not necessarily reflect my current view.

(opinion) Looks like those goals that the original NBN had in mind — the bridging of the digital divide, bringing broadband equity to all Australians — has suffered another deep blow today.

If rural customers still need to pay more to install their NBN service and reactivate their ports, there will continue to be a digital divide between rural and metro customers. Already, satellite technology is technically inferior to the FTTx, HFC and Fixed Wireless rollouts used in less remote areas.

The original concept was that “cross-subsidy” between metro and rural areas would be enough for to create product equity across the NBN footprints. The company was obliged to ensure “uniform national wholesale access pricing”, and these extra fees and charges do not look uniform to me.

At the end of the day… it is, yet again, people who live in regional and rural areas who leave as relative losers.

There’s probably a lot more to say about this once I’ve had the time to think it through and digest… so watch this space?

Kenneth Tsang

I'm the author of jxeeno™ blog and co-founder of HSCninja.com. I'm a bit of an #NBN and public transport geek. You can normally find me juggling work and my studies at UNSW where I'm currently completing a degree in Geospatial Engineering.