Australia's second largest DSL internet service provider iiNet has taken a swipe at NBN Co, saying it has ignored input from industry experts while devising its new corporate plan.
iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said NBN Co - the government-owned company building the national broadband network (NBN) - had reached beyond its remit as a strictly wholesale service provider into the retail realm, "despite its lack of retail skills or expertise".
Mr Dalby said NBN Co's strategic review, a key plank of its new corporate plan scheduled to be complete by mid-year, had "ignored inputs on this front from some of Australia's most experienced internet retailers including ourselves".
"By NBN Co insisting on controlling the design of retail products, retail service providers are unable to respond to customer demands or evolve to meet changing needs," he told a public hearing in Perth on Wednesday.
"If NBN Co had simply offered access to wholesale interfaces or ports, innovative service providers would already have a much greater range of business and residential retail services on offer in the market."
iiNet, which is one of the largest providers of internet services on the NBN, refuses to sign a wholesale agreement with NBN Co that will allow it to continue to be one of the largest providers of internet services on the fibre optic network. The Perth based company won't sign up because it's disputing costs and time taken to connect new customers.
Mr Dalby also said debate about the NBN had focused too much on costs, timetables and trivial pursuits such as uploading music, rather than focusing on the benefits faster internet would bring the economy.
He said it was being conducted in a "policy vacuum".
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who was part of the hearing committee, said the Coalition's leaning towards buying Telstra's copper network to connect homes to neighbourhood NBN nodes was "effectively the destruction of an extraordinary infrastructure project".
While the Coalition's option is cheaper, it is also expected to be slower.
Senator Ludlam believes fibre optic should be laid directly to premises.
"The purpose of this committee as far as I'm concerned is to salvage something from the wreckage of telecommunications policy under the Abbott and Turnbull model," he told reporters.
"Now it is on its knees, really for base political objectives.
"The economics are very uncertain, the timing is completely uncertain and the fact is it looks as though the government is seriously proposing taking on the liability of Telstra's obsolete copper network, rather than building the network of the future."
NBN Co declined to comment.