Draft standards, rules and benchmarks for Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) networks are now open for stakeholder comment.
SIPs are telecommunications carriers obliged to provide baseline wholesale broadband in the areas that they service, and in the case of fixed line and fixed wireless networks, support Voice over IP (VoIP) services.
There are currently 18 SIPs in addition to NBN Co. – including Lightning Broadband parent company Lynham Networks, which was officially declared a SIP by the Federal Government last year. Lightning Broadband evolved out of Lynham Networks, which was originally a community-led connectivity project.
SIPs are obligated to comply with any standards, rules or benchmarks set by the Minister for Communications. Under legislation, they must offer peak speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 5 Mbps upload. Lynham Networks betters this by a huge margin, with Lightning Broadband offering up to 1,000Mbps download and upload speeds – consistently.
But SIP obligations need to be better defined and good service goes beyond just upload and download rates, hence this process.
The Government is seeking stakeholder feedback on issues including timeframes for wholesale connections and repairs, standards for peak wholesale speeds and network remediation plans where speeds aren’t being delivered.
Under the draft benchmark, SIPs must ensure at least 90% of eligible services in an area meet the peak speed standard each quarter. The peak speed standard would compel SIPs to achieve at least 25 Mbps at least once each 24 hour period, or otherwise at least 50% of any higher download speed offered (whichever is the higher).
“This is intended to provide confidence that SIPs will monitor the performance of their networks, and take steps to address systematic issues impacting the achievement of peak speed,” states the draft.
The standards are also necessary as in the absence of direct fixed line competition in a service area, this may result in reduced incentives for a SIP to continue providing a high level of service; whether that be in relation to broadband speeds or resolving issues when they occur.
Submissions close on March 1, 2021 and more information can be found here.
“Stakeholder views will help the Government decide whether to proceed with the draft standards, rules and benchmarks, and, if so, the final form they should take,” said Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher.