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ComCom studies consumer protections for switch to fibre

ComCom studies consumer protections for switch to fibre

A copper withdrawal code is being shaped to protect consumers

Dr Stephen Gale (Telecommunications Commissioner)

Dr Stephen Gale (Telecommunications Commissioner)

The Commerce Commission is seeking feedback on consumer protections and processes to regulate when Chorus can stop providing copper-based voice and broadband services in areas where fibre is available.

Consumers are likely to make the switch from copper to fibre as it is rolled out, making the copper network more costly for Chorus to maintain.

Recent legislative changes will therefore allow Chorus to shift remaining copper consumers to fibre from 2020.

Telecommunications commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said there are consumer protections built into this process.

"To ensure consumers are not disadvantaged, we will be developing a copper withdrawal code that sets out the rules that must be followed before Chorus can stop providing copper services in neighbourhoods where fibre is available," he said.

The code will require, for example, that before the copper service can be withdrawn an equivalent fibre service is readily available at no additional cost. Chorus will also have to provide information about available fibre services and give adequate notice of the changes.

Chorus cannot stop providing copper services until it meets all the consumer protections in the copper withdrawal code.

One further component will be a "Commission 111 contact code" that will require retailers to ensure vulnerable consumers have an appropriate means of contacting 111 for emergency services at no cost during a power outage.

The Commission wants to hear from industry participants as well as consumer groups on its proposed approach to identifying the areas where fibre services are clearly available and if there are any additional provisions the Commission should include in the code.

Submissions on the fibre areas process and issues paper close on 8 February 2019 while submissions on the copper withdrawal code close on 14 February 2019. Cross-submissions on the copper withdrawal code close on 6 March 2019.

Further information, including papers released today, can be found on here.


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