NBN Is Not Another Telstra

I am sick to death of hearing complaints about how the NBN is going to be another Telstra and how bad that will be for consumers.

Ever since Telstra launched an internet service in Australia they have held two functions. The first as a retailer, meaning they sold internet products to you and me directly. We would pay a monthly fee and our PC would be able to access the internet through their service, BigPond Internet was its consumer brand name. The second service was that of a wholesaler of internet services to other internet service providers. Under this arrangement, Telstra would sell a product to another company who would then onsell the product to their own customer. You as the customer pay your money to the retail ISP, and they pay Telstra for providing their part of the service. This meant a smaller ISP who did not have the technical infrastructure to provide the service, could still sell you the product.

Much has been said about this dual role of Telstra in the internet space. Some of which has ended up in ACCC investigations. The basic premise has been that as a provider of wholesale and retail services in the ISP space, Telstra has been in an unfair position. You may not agree with that thought, but many people do and Telstra obviously would disagree.

Now let’s look at the National Broadband Network. This is a company formed by funding from the federal government, or the people of Australia if I may be so bold, to build a brand new fibre-to-the-home network. With the NBN, the service being sold is a wholesale service only. As an internet customer I cannot ring the NBN, offer up my credit card details and pay for an internet service. To subscribe, I must contact a retail partner, such as Iinet or Internode, tell them my address and purchase one of their ISP plans that is re-selling the NBN fibre service.

What is the difference? There is no way that the NBN is the same as Telstra. Without a retail and wholesale business any benefit or deemed benefit of running two such business units does not exist.

So please stop the complaining that the NBN is another Telstra, focus your complaints on the many other areas of the NBN that is such an easy target for criticism.