InternetNZ has come out in support of the Government’s latest proposals on telco regulation, set out in a discussion paper released on 10 February.
In that paper the Government proposed to deregulate access to the copper network from 2020 and remove the TSO obligation in areas where UFB or other fibre is available. In areas where UFB or other fibre is not available, it proposed retaining the TSO obligation and requiring Chorus to continue supplying copper services at prices capped at 2019 levels.
Submissions to the paper closed on 3 March, but none have yet been published on the enquiry’s web page.
InternetNZ CEO, Jordan Carter, said the proposals offered a clear and simple framework for future regulation, representing “a significant step towards our goal of better Internet, at fair prices, for all New Zealanders.”
Jordan said: "We particularly welcome the decision to focus post-2020 regulation on fibre networks. By 2024, UFB fibre will reach 85 percent of New Zealanders at home and work. The proposals rightly focus on our future networks, allowing us to move beyond the limits of the old copper network.”
He added: "The only obvious downside in the proposal is that the initial product specs that will ‘anchor’ the new framework are too slow to do that job. I’m sure that officials will look at that in finalising the proposals.
"We welcome the strong measures proposed to protect users as we transition to fast, modern networks. Eventually, we think competing choices will deliver a range of good options for New Zealanders to get online.”
However, InternetNZ’s submission proposes some extra measures that the organisation says “will help realise the benefits of the proposed framework.”
- continuing public investment to deliver services in the most remote areas;
-review of resourcing for the Commerce Commission to ensure it can protect user interests under the new framework;
- a consistent process to ensure regulated fibre ‘anchor products’ remain fast enough to attract users over time.
To prepare its submission Internet NZ commissioned UMR Research to “ask a range of questions of ordinary New Zealanders, to ensure that we were fairly representing their views in this process,” it said.
“Our research revealed increasing use of home Internet, and strong predictions that people will want faster home Internet. Among those surveyed: 65 percent said their household was using the Internet more than three years ago. This was mostly the 44 percent using the Internet ‘a lot more’.
“Seventy five percent thought it was ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ they would want a faster connection in three years’ time. Few agreed that ‘copper services are generally good enough for rural users’.
“Asked to choose between preferred statements, 61 percent said it was not fair that many rural users have to put up with slower and less reliable copper Internet connections.”