Telecommunications Amendment Bill to 'support the shift to fibre'

Telecommunications Amendment Bill to 'support the shift to fibre'

Copper broadband willl remain a regulated service in areas where affordable alternatives are not available.

New Zealand's telecommunications regulatory framework is set to go "fibre first".

New Zealand's telecommunications regulatory framework is set to go "fibre first".

Communications Minister Simon Bridges will introduce a Telecommunications Amendment Bill to support New Zealand's shift to fibre into Parliament today.

The new regime, first outlined in May, introduces a utility regulation model for Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre, deregulates copper lines where fibre is available, and includes measures to improve the quality of service for consumers by increasing regulatory oversight, Bridges said.

“The Bill supports the shift to fibre as the technology of choice among an increasing number of consumers, by establishing a stable and predictable framework for regulating fibre and by removing copper regulation from 2020," the Minister said.

Copper will continue to be regulated outside of fibre coverage areas and safeguards will make sure that customers do not lose their copper landline or broadband unless there is an alternative service available at a comparable price and service level.

The Bill introduces a number of other changes aimed at lifting consumer service quality including requiring the Commerce Commission to regularly report on retail service quality in a more accessible way and to review the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Service regularly to ensure it is working effectively.

The Commission will also be able to make codes that address retail service quality, if the industry fails to develop industry-led codes that are adequate.

InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter welcomed the new frmework..

"As expected, this bill sets out the new framework to regulate copper and fibre broadband networks, and gives the Commerce Commission important new powers that will help assure the quality of service people get from broadband providers," he said.

However, Carter said he remained concerned with the draft legislation's choice of so-called "anchor products" - a broadband product at a specified price designed to influence prices across all broadband products. 

"We think the Government has selected too slow a product for this function and we will propose an alternative as part of the select committee process," Carter said.

Telco service quality and the consumer experience is also being tested by the Commerce Commission, which last month announced it as an area of priority for the coming year.

"Despite undertaking a lot of work in the sector it continues to generate a high level of complaints from consumers,"  Commerce Commission chair Mark Berry said.

"This combined with our concerns about service quality indicates there is still work to be done, so retail telecommunications will be an organisation-wide priority focus area for us."

The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill is set down for its first reading this month.

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Tags regulationTelecommunicationsfibreUltrafast Broadband (UFB)UFBCommerce CommissionSimon Bridges

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