Friday, 09 November 2018 11:15

Commerce Commission looks for industry, public input on NZ's fibre broadband regulations

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Commerce Commission looks for industry, public input on NZ's fibre broadband regulations Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New Zealand’s competition enforcement agency, The Commerce Commission, is undertaking industry and public consultation on its proposed implementation of a new regulatory regime for fibre broadband networks.

As part of its review, the Commission has invited views on its proposed approach to the regulatory requirements for the New Zealand Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative that aims to deliver social and economic gains from better access to public services and better business productivity.

The move follows the New Zealand Parliament’s approval of amendments to the Telecommunications Act last year which established the statutory framework for the new fibre regime.

The government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative originally aimed to provide fibre-to-the-premises to 75% of New Zealand’s population by 2020, but was expanded twice in 2017, and now aims to achieve fibre-to-the-premises to 87% of the population — including 1% private fibre — by 2022.

The Commission is tasked with setting a revenue cap and service quality standards for New Zealand's largest telecommunications infrastructure provider Chorus, and information disclosure rules for Chorus and the other fibre companies, as the country undergoes rapid change in the broadband sector.

Under the new regime, the Commission will set the maximum revenue that Chorus can earn from their customers and the minimum quality standards it must meet – referred to as price-quality regulation. In addition, New Zealand's four fibre network providers will be required to publicly disclose information on their performance, including profitability, revenue, and capital expenditure.

“End user demand for data and services is growing, broadband technology is responding — or leading — and the competitive landscape is changing,” said Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale.

“As a result the rules we develop need to have the right mix of predictability and flexibility to allow industry to best manage these changes. Our aim is that the new regime provides confidence that fibre networks are operating efficiently and innovating to keep up with consumer demands for quality broadband services, at the same time making a competitive rate of return.”

New Zealand’s proposed regime for fibre networks is largely based on Part 4 of the Commerce Act, which applies to energy networks and airports, and the Commission says it intends to draw on its experience in developing and implementing this “utilities-style regulation” to inform its approach to fibre networks.

“We will be working closely with stakeholders to develop this new regime. Our first paper focuses on explaining the framework and our proposed approach as well as key issues we have identified that will be developed further through the consultation process,” Dr Gale said.

The Commission announced it will be holding a workshop for interested stakeholders in early December to discuss key issues in its consultation paper released on Friday. Submissions on the paper are due by 21 December and cross-submission by 25 January 2019.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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