by CIO New Zealand

Telco review sets new direction for regulating broadband and phone services

Apr 14, 2016
Government ITTelecommunications

Communications Minister Amy Adams: “It’s time for our laws to catch up.”

Communications Minister Amy Adams has announced a series of high-level policy decisions on the future regulation of the telecommunications sector.

“Digital technologies are transforming the way New Zealanders live, work and do business,” says Adams, in a statement.

“To help reach our 2025 broadband target and to keep our economy growing, we need the right laws in place to make sure high quality and affordable communication services are available for consumers and businesses.”

Adams points out the the communications sector is vastly different to the market in 2001 when the Telecommunications Act was introduced.

From 2020, the Government will move to a framework for regulating copper and fibre services that is similar to the one used for utilities like electricity lines.

This move will deliver the stability needed to support investment in high quality and affordable communications services for New Zealanders, she states.

Key decisions include:

  • Moving to a utility-style model (with ‘building blocks’ pricing) for regulating wholesale services on the copper and UFB networks
  • Considering ways to better support competition in the mobile market
  • Retaining the current ‘unbundling’ requirements to promote innovation on the UFB network from 2020
  • Ruling out any changes to the regulation of broadcasting infrastructure.

“The Government is making changes now to ensure there’s a sound system in place after 2019. Changes to the regulation of fixed-line networks will provide investors with certainty and ensure consumers are protected once the UFB build contracts expire,” says Adams.

She says the Government had ruled out making any changes to the regulation of broadcasting infrastructure.

“Consumers have access to an ever increasing selection of entertainment content online and through traditional television. Digital convergence means the broadcasting sector is facing more competition than ever at both the retail and network level, so doesn’t warrant any regulatory intervention at this stage.”

“These high-level policy decisions build on the discussion document ‘Regulating Communications for the Future’ released last year as part of the Convergence work programme. In coming months, we will continue the conversation with an options paper on the detailed design and implementation of the new framework.”

Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand CEO Craig Young, meanwhile, says the organisation cautiously welcomes the Government’s announcement of the review.

Craig Young, TUANZ CEO: “All aspects of the mobile market need to be reviewed to ensure ongoing competition is strong and we see the continuance of multi-party participation.”

“These decision are generally in line with our submission to the original discussion paper,” says Young. “We are generally supportive of the move to the utility style regulations and will engage in the discussion on the specifics to ensure we vigorously support the right outcomes for business and consumer users of these services.”

He until there is more detail released on the proposals including transitional arrangements, the impact will not be fully understood.

The decision regarding consulting on competition in the mobile sector is also a positive decision, he states.

“This was also one of the key points we made in our submission – that all aspects of the mobile market need to be reviewed to ensure ongoing competition is strong and we see the continuance of multi-party participation.”

He says TUANZ believes the review is critical to ensure that all the relevant tools are in place to ensure that competition and coverage continue to improve in Rural New Zealand in line with their goal of high quality, ubiquitous connectivity across the country.

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