The Government has called for submission on the proposed legislation to create a new regulatory framework for telecommunications.
The legislation, The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament in August 2016 following a mandated review of the current framework conducted between 2012 and 2017.
It seeks to amend the Telecommunications Act 2001 and to modernise some of the powers within the law by: establishing a regulatory framework for fibre fixed line services, removing unnecessary copper fixed line access service regulation, streamlining regulatory processes, and providing more regulatory oversight of retail service quality.
Tabling of the bill followed the issue of an options paper in July 2016 and 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 had its first reading on 16 August 2016 and was then passed to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee, which has issued the call for submissions. Submissions as due on 8 February and the committee is due to issue its report on 8 May 2018. No indicative timetable for future stages of the bill’s passage into law has been given.
Commerce Commission creates fibre team to implement new regime
Meanwhile the Commerce Commission has established a fibre regulation team to implement the fibre regulation anticipated under the bill.
The team is led by Vanessa Howell, previously principal counsel in the Regulation branch. It will include staff with telecommunications expertise and with experience in building-block regulation from the energy and airport sectors.
The Commission said it had taken the initiative in light of the size of the task and timeframes for completion. “The new team has been created alongside and in addition to the existing telecommunications team to ensure the Commission can implement the regulation required under the bill while continuing its existing work in the telecommunications area,” it said.
Once the bill is passed, it will require the Commission to implement a new regulatory framework for fixed line fibre services by 2020, with a possible two-year extension.