ComCom launches study into demand side of UFB

Premium content likely to come under review

The Commerce Commission has launched a study into demand side issues that may impede the uptake of services that are offered as part of the government's $1.5 billion Ultra Fast Broadband network

In a statement today Telecommunications Commissioner Ross Patterson says the study, conducted under section 9A of the Telecommunications Act 2001, will analyse the drivers of uptake of high speed fibre broadband access in other jurisdications and determine if these are applicable in New Zealand.

Premium content regulated?

A spokesperson for the Commission told Computerworld the idea of a study was first raised by the Patterson at the Tel.Con conference in June last year. During his speech to the conference, Patterson raised the spectre of the bottleneck in telecommunications moving to issues around premium content.

“The bottleneck shifts from the last mile to the last 10 inches,” he told the conference. “A greater focus is required on the demand side and these issues need to be addressed at the same time that the networks have been built.”

He said that in Singapore, which has also rolled out a government-backed fibre network, user uptake was found to be surprisingly low – around 30 percent, even when the fibre connection was offered free. “[The result] of its open access model was to move the bottleneck of content exclusivity to the set top box, to electronic programming,” Patterson told the audience.

Computerworld asked Patterson at the conference if the Commission would look at regulating Sky TV, which owns the rights to most major sporting events in New Zealand, but he replied the decision to regulate was one for policy makers. “All we are doing is raising that internationally, it is recognised and has been addressed in other jurisdictions.”

At the same conference Kordia CEO Geoff Hunt said that digital penetration (that is SkyTV and Freeview) is estimated to be 69 percent of New Zealand households and that the penetration increases by five to six percent.”

As part of the consultation process, the Commerce Commission will hold a conference in October this year, and final report is expected to be published on December 9.

“Our aim is to promote competition in telecommunications markets for the long-term benefit of end-users of telecommunications services in New Zealand. This study will result in a report which will identify any factors which may inhibit the uptake of ultra-fast broadband services. We can then use that information to inform the industry,” says Patterson in today’s release. “At this point, we'd like interested parties to comment on the proposed terms of reference for the study.”

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Tags UFBultra-fast broadbandRoss Pattersoncommerce comission

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