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The head of the Seven Network and struggling communications Company Unwired, has said that no telecoms carrier should be allowed to have more than a five percent shareholding in the National Broadband Network, while the ABC is asking for a free ride for its content.

The head of the Seven Network and struggling communications Company Unwired, has said that no telecoms carrier should be allowed to have more than a five percent shareholding in the National Broadband Network, while the ABC is asking for a free ride for its content.

Kerry Stokes’s Seven Network and its Unwired subsidiary have told the Government in separate submissions and the ABC wants the Government to guarantee that its content is carried free on the NBN.

These are among hundreds of propositions contained in 34 submissions received by the Government on the proposed legislative framework for the NBN. The submissions have been published at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Web site, www.dbcde.gov.au.

Ownership provisions are a hot topic in the submissions. Seven and Unwired  which hopes to see its WiMax-suitable spectrum brought into play in the NBN say that to ensure no investor can exercise influence over NBN, no telco should be able to own or control more than 5 percent of the action. But the Government should allow non-telco investors to have up to 15 percent.

Canadian outfit Axia, which is a lead partner in Singapore’s NBN and was one of the unsuccessful bidders for the original $4.7 billion NBN project, reckons the limit should be 20 percent of the private investors’ share of NBN ­ that is, 20 percent of 49 percent, or 9.8 percent.

Optus has urged a 20 percent cap ­ and says this must remain the absolute top, even after the Government sells off its 51 percent share after five years of operation. Even a 25pc shareholding would allow a single company to dominate the smaller shareholders following the sale, it points out.

“This would create another Telstra and perpetuate the failures of the current dysfunctional fixed line market,” says Optus.

Optus also says legislation will be required to: ensure strict separation of employees of NBN and any retail supplier; a ban on temporary transfers or secondments of directors, officers or employees; and a ban on NBN sharing premises with a retail supplier.

Meanwhile ­ in a submission likely to enrage commercial TV networks and Rupert Murdoch’s News group ­ the ABC says publicly funded content and services carried over the NBN, including its own, should be carried free of charge and ISPs should be forced to supply them free to the public, and not count the content in end users’ data allowances or caps. It suggests NBN Co construct a list of IP addresses that would get this treatment, including government departments and agencies.

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