Stephen Conroy and the free connections, free handsets, free broadband - I've asked the ACCC for an opinion
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Stephen Conroy should know better than to put out false, misleading and deceptive advertising material.
Here's the ad I'm talking about. You can find it on the Prime Minister's Facebook page.
Just to make sure we know who's behind it, Senator Conroy has written that he authorised the ad, it's on the right hand side, I've reprinted it below.
Senator Conroy should know better than to promote an offer that says "connecting to high speed fibre broadband (is) free". It's not free at all. The NBN business is treated in the government's books as an investment, and every invested dollar of capital will be looking for a return. That includes the cost of bringing the NBN to your home, you will pay for the fibre connection over the course of your contract. If that is not so, I'd invite the Senator to demonstrate the NBN sales package that provides a free connection to broadband - not just to dark fibre, but to broadband. "Broadband" is not just a line, it's a service.
Most years, Senator Conroy receives a note like this one from the ACCC.
The letter accompanies a report from the ACCC setting out the big issues in telecommunications and competition in that industry.
A perennial bugbear in the telecommunications caper has been the notorious "Free Mobile Phone Handsets". These paragraphs from the report referred to above describe the ACCC's views:
If the NBN was magically free, Conroy might have a leg to stand on. But it's not, it has to be paid for and the only way it can be paid for is through usage charges and government debt. And the term Broadband in Conroy's ad describes a telecommunications service, not an installation of equipment.
Because NBN Co Ltd is subject to the Trade Practices Act, and because the act provides for sanctions on misleading and deceptive conduct, I have to day written to the ACCC to bring Senator Conroy's ad to the Commission's attention. Here is my report:
I'll let you know how we get on.