Commerce Commission tightens Chorus’ UBA congestion limits

The Commerce Commission has released the final decision in its review of the non-price features of Chorus’ Unbundled Bitstream Access (UBA) service, imposing tighter congestion reporting requirements than those envisaged in its draft decision.

In the draft review, released in November it proposed that Chorus dimension its network such that traffic on what is called a local aggregation path (LAP - the link in the network upstream for a DSLAM) averaged over a 15 minute period not exceed the total capacity of that link, to ensure that users did not suffer unduly from network congestion.

In its final decision the commission has reduced that interval to five minutes, saying this would “further minimise the risk of end-users experiencing sustained periods of congestion.”

It said that Chorus had accepted that a five minute period would improve reporting precision, but had argued that it would be no more accurate in identifying congestion. “Chorus considered that it will therefore ‘make no difference to our investment planning or consumer experience’,” the commission said.

The commission has also reduced from 85 percent to 80 percent the LAP usage threshold at which Chorus must report plans to increase capacity. Where traffic on an LAP exceeds 80 percent of capacity in any five minute period, and where Chorus has internally approved upgrade plans, it will be required to provide additional LAP information to access seekers and to the commission.

Where utilisation on a LAP is above 80 percent in any five minute period and Chorus does not have internally approved upgrade plans, it will be required to provide additional LAP information only to the commission.

The commission has decided to leave the terms for Chorus’ use of VDSL technology to provide the UBA unchanged. Chorus is only required to use VDSL to provide the UBA in an area where it is already available, and if specifically requested to do so by an access seeker.

The commission said its overall aim was to ensure that UBA service could continue to be used by retailers to provide the best possible range of competitive broadband services over copper.

Telecommunications commissioner, Dr Stephen Gale, said there had been general agreement amongst parties throughout the review that the UBA service should keep pace with consumer demand.

“While migration to the new fibre network is progressing apace, UBA will remain a key input for retail broadband for some time yet, particularly in areas beyond the reach of the ultrafast broadband initiative.”

He added: “We are confident that the new standard will not lead to inefficient investment, even if copper is deregulated in UFB areas as currently proposed by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.”

The Commission has exempted around 19,000 lines in Chorus’ remote legacy networks from the new service standards until it is clear how much the service to these consumers will be upgraded through the second phase of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative.

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