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House NBN panel asks govt to change regional broadband levy

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The Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee into the NBN has recommended that the government update the modelling of its proposed regional broadband levy, in order to reflect the cost increases since the original modelling in 2015.

It said any change should recognise that the levy "does not constitute a sustainable funding mechanism, and is better re-purposed as a level playing field competition measure".

The recommendation was one of 20 contained in the panel's second report; this time the focus was on regional and rural Australia.

The government proposed the industry levy in December 2016, and it was supposed to fund the costs of paying for provision of the NBN in unprofitable regional areas.

The so-called Regional Broadband Scheme was estimated to raise about $40 million by imposing a levy on “superfast” (or “NBN-comparable”) fixed-line broadband services which can offer speeds of 25 megabits per second or more.

The committee recommended that the NBN Co should stop replicating wholesale fixed-line product tiers on fixed-wireless due to the increasing congestion on the fixed-wireless network.

It sought data from the government to show the number of premises formerly on ADSL which fell into the footprint of the NBN Co's Sky Muster satellite footprint.

The panel also called on the NBN Co to use expanded "layer 3" capabilities to increase the monthly data allowances for satellite users.

It asked the NBN Co to work with retail service providers to promote take-up of Sky Muster services in areas where there was no alternative connection option.

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