UFB rollout in mind as Govt seeks telecommunications changes

“These proposed changes will help speed up the rollout of the Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative programmes…”

Public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to the National Environmental Standard (NES) for telecommunications facilities to help speed up improvements and reduce costs.

Communications Minister Amy Adams and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith launched the discussion document this week, which includes a range of proposals to modernise and streamline the existing NES.

“This new National Environmental Standard for telecommunications facilities will reduce by thousands the number of resource consents required to install Wi-Fi panels, street cabinets, light pole antennas and cabling, and will save consumers and ratepayers millions of dollars,” Dr Smith says.

“It is part of the Government’s plans to make the Resource Management Act more practical and standardise.”

According to Adams, it is estimated that the standard has already saved industry around $3.2 million from avoided compliance costs, with the proposed amendments providing further cost savings of around $1 million a year to network operators.

“These proposed changes will help speed up the rollout of the Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative programmes, and fast-track the availability of new and better communications technologies,” Adams adds.

“The building of world-class communication network is the most ambitious infrastructure project New Zealand has ever undertaken, so it’s important to get rules in place that reflect changing technologies.

“With more than 43 per cent of the stage one build complete, the UFB and RBI programmes are completely changing how we connect with each other, how we educate our children and how we provide healthcare and other services across the country.”

Dr Smith says the problem the Government is seeking to address with the new National Environmental Standard is the variation in rules for dealing with the visual effects with each one of New Zealand’s 67 councils having different rules.

“The existing 2008 Standard is limited to the roading corridor,” he adds. “These changes extend the resource consent exemptions onto private land as well as reducing the need for consents on roads.

“The new Standard still requires the consent of the land or building owner but removes the need for a notified resource consent if the telecommunications facility has low visual impact.

“The new standard also encourages the co-location of different operators’ infrastructure and strengthens the Utilities Access Code that encourages cooperation in the use of the roading corridor.”

This review of the NES for Telecommunications Facilities will not change the radio frequency exposure standards however, with all new telecommunications infrastructure continuing to need to comply with current standards referenced in the NES, and which are based on international best practice.

Submissions on the discussion document close 17 April 2015. The document, and process for feedback, can be found by clicking here

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