The NBN Co is a wholesaler and has generally charged telcos for access and capacity separately. Customers of telcos that do not buy enough bandwidth typically experience low speeds in the busy evening hours.
Telecommunications executives have been frustrated by some providers charging lower prices for plans to attract customers but not providing enough bandwidth. This issue caused some complaints after customers found their internet unusable during congested periods though there are many possible reasons for poor performance.
The NBN Co last year decided to start selling some plans as bundles with a minimum amount of bandwidth included in the charge.
The telecommunications industry had repeatedly called for bandwidth charges to be removed from the wholesale charges completely. Mr Sheridan described the current pricing structure as “ineffective”.
He said removing it would not require a write down of the $50 billion infrastructure company’s value.
“It can rebalance its charges and look at growth opportunities to meet its longer-tern revenue targets,” he said in a statement.
“A write down of this valuable, national infrastructure isn’t the answer to pricing issues. This would simply shift value from taxpayers to shareholder and will not assist the long-term development of this infrastructure.”
An NBN Co spokesman said the last wholesale pricing consultation was in 2017 and the market had seen “significant change since”.
“An important part of this consultation process is to identify options to increase take-up of the NBN and address the under-served consumer segments in the community, and we think this is something worth talking about,” she said.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn has repeatedly called for the NBN to lower its wholesale prices. On Thursady, a Telstra spokesman welcomed the latest consultation as a sign the government recognised that affordability was an issue.
“We’ll engage in the consultation process and continue to advocate for a simpler, more flexible and sustainable wholesale pricing model on behalf of our customers. We’d also like to see more transparency in the price setting process,” he said.
Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.