Communications Minister Simon Bridges has introduced into Parliament the long awaited new telecommunications legislation, the outcome of a two-year consultation process from 2015 to 2017.
Bridges said the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill would introduce a more predictable utility regulation model for Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre, deregulate copper lines where fibre is available, and included measures to improve the quality of service for consumers by increasing regulatory oversight.
The Bill contains no surprises. Bridges revealed final details of the Government’s telecommunications reforms in June following the issue of an options paper in July 2016, followed by the release of a consultation paper in February 2017 setting out details of how the government proposed to regulate access to the copper telephone network beyond 2020.
The bill has been generally well received. TUANZ welcomed the bill with CEO Craig Young saying many of the proposed changes reflected those set out in the options paper released earlier this year, which TUANZ had supported.
“We are especially pleased to see our concerns around the ability of the Commerce Commission to respond to possible competition problems, as well as enhancing the Commission’s powers around ensuring consumer retail service quality is maintained and improved are addressed in the bill, he said.
However TUANZ chair, Pat O’Connell, said TUANZ had some concerns. “One element not addressed as a result of the review is the inequality of resourcing for consumer voice research and advocacy that exists in New Zealand when compared to other jurisdictions such as Australia, he said.
“We are fortunate that today, as over the last 30 years, a significant number of New Zealand businesses and individuals have seen the importance of supporting such a voice through membership of our organisation.”
InternetNZ’s CEO Jordan Carter said the new framework should secure the high-speed broadband access New Zealand needed, at fair prices. However, he also had reservations.
"One remaining concern with this draft legislation is the choice of so-called ‘anchor products’ - a broadband product at a specified price designed to influence prices across all broadband products,” he said. “We think the Government has selected too slow a product for this function and we will propose an alternative as part of the select committee process.”
Spark made no specific comments on the bill. General manager regulatory affairs, John Wesley-Smith, noted it was consistent with previous Government communications. “Spark will continue to engage on the finer details of the legislation as the bill goes through the Parliamentary process over coming months,” he said.
Chorus executive, Vanessa Oakley, said Chorus was pleased to see progress on modernising a regulatory regime to support digital infrastructure, now the “fourth utility.” "Our focus will continue to be on ensuring that the regulatory framework is predictable in its implementation at 2020, reduces the level of complexity and encourages ongoing investment through a fair return and ongoing innovation for consumers on high quality infrastructure," she said.