(On 16 September, the government announced the final details of its Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative, a $NZ1.5 billion government investment in FTTH infrastructure; and on 29 September 2009, it released its coverage and funding plan for rural telecommunications).
According to the discussion paper, "The MED's [Ministry of Economic Development] preliminary view is that, at this stage, the risks of ineffective land access rights are not to be found so much in the precise drafting of legislative rights, as in the practical ability of companies to enforce these rights. In this context, MED's preliminary view is that, for both private and public land, non-legislative measures could be more effective and appropriate."
For private land, it says these measures "might include workshops designed to make landowners aware of the benefits to them and the community from a successful rollout of fibre-to-the-home, and the preparation of a voluntary code to guide the manner in which LFCs [Local Fibre Companies] exercise their rights under Section 120 of the Telecommunications Act."
For public land, MED's preliminary view is a whole of government direction as set out in section 107 of the Crown Entities Act may be the most appropriate approach. The MED also proposes that, as in Australia, the Government should require developers to lay fibre infrastructure to the home or premise in all greenfields developments.
The MED is seeking feedback on the merits, and the costs and benefits, of the proposed measures, and on the legislative and non-legislative vehicles proposed to implement them.
Specific measures canvassed include: MED engaging with telecommunications/electricity/gas companies and LFCs to explain the government's expectations in respect of the parties' behaviour; the government encouraging industry players to draft a code, along the lines of the National Code of Practice for Utilities Access to Transport Corridors (which concerns access to land rather than access to structures).
MED says also that it: "considers it appropriate that non-legislative measures be introduced to make it easier for LFCs and other telecommunications companies to obtain access to support structures controlled by Local Councils. This could involve, for example, the development of "best practice" guides similar to the Broadband Friendly Protocol, and the organisation of workshops around the country."
Submissions on the discussion paper are required by 6 November 2009. The MED is also hosting workshops around the country during October "to enable interested parties to better understand the issues addressed in the discussion document."
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