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New Zealand issues final details on telecoms act reform

Telecoms operators in New Zealand have responded positively to the final details of the reform package for the Telecommunications Act that refines regulatory settings that will apply to fibre and copper fixed line services from 2020, although some concerns have been raised, reports the New Zealand Herald. “The aim is to deregulate the copper network where it competes with fibre from 2020, expected to cover three-quarters of the population by then. The government launched a review of the 15-year-old Act in 2015 to gauge the crossover with broadcasting and to have a look at the way network service pricing was regulated.” Among other things wholesale prices for copper services in non-ultra fast broadband (UFB) areas will be inflation adjusted from 2020, the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation said. A small change will be made to the valuation method for older assets, which will simplify the initial valuation of the assets of regulated suppliers. The Commerce Commission will not be required to decide whether investments made by UFB providers before 2020 were efficient. It will clarify that the price-capped fibre broadband anchor product is intended to be an entry-level product, not the most popular product, and the direct fibre access service (a business-grade fibre product) will also be price-capped. “To complement the fixed line regulatory reform, the government will streamline regulatory processes for mobile regulation. The government has also decided to augment consumer safeguards and to provide more regulatory oversight of retail quality standards and dispute resolution processes.” Under the new system, UFB providers will have to disclose information about their revenues and costs publicly; operator Chorus will also be subject to a revenue cap from 2020 and local fibre companies will face competition from copper and cable, but can be regulated if problems arise. Vocus Group chief executive New Zealand Mark Callander said: “It's disappointing to see that the regulated fibre anchor product hasn’t been increased from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Instead they’ve said that the price capped fibre broadband anchor product is intended to be an entry-level product.” With customers demanding faster speeds, this means that most New Zealanders will not be on a fibre service that has its price regulated. Companies will be free to decide whether to offer faster services and charge what they want as long as they don’t exceed a revenue cap set by the commission. “That's open to gaming by the monopoly local fibre company,” he said. Meanwhile communications minister Simon Bridges has reappointed incumbent telecoms commissioner Stephen Gale to the role for another three years, saying he provides “stability and continuity” at a time where the sector is undergoing significant change. Read the New Zealand Herald and Government telecoms review documents here.

  • Tuesday, 20 June 2017

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