Telcos back Govt plans to reduce UFB delays and frustrations
- 29 February, 2016 07:29
Telcos across New Zealand have welcomed Government plans to streamline consenting rules to help speed up the installation of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) rollout, as part of the first phase of its Land Access Reforms to reduce delays and frustrations with getting properties connected to UFB.
As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, Communication Minister Amy Adams made the changes following on from the Land Access for Telecommunications Discussion Document released last year.
In response to the move, Vodafone has welcomed the new regulations to streamline Kiwi customers’ experience connecting to UFB.
“Kiwis love broadband and are increasingly using it as a key enabler of their connected homes,” says Matt Williams, Consumer Director, Vodafone.
“With this, more and more New Zealanders are shifting to fibre, making us the fastest country in the OECD in terms of fibre uptake.
“Some of our customers have told us how frustrating it is to get connected to fibre due to access on shared driveways or cross-leases. Previously they would need to carry out an extensive consent process to install fibre into their home.
“It is pleasing to see the government, industry and public working together to simplify this process, so more kiwis can benefit from New Zealand’s UFB investment.”
On the whole, the telecommunications industry supports the changes, which will “remove a barrier” to connecting to the UFB network.
According to TCF CEO, Geoff Thorn, the current requirement to get consent from all property owners is slowing down the installation process and creating frustration for consumers who are actively seeking to upgrade to UFB.
As such, Thorn believes the proposed changes are a positive step forward and will help reduce the time required for consumers to get their fibre connection with the changes also estimated to save the industry costs of between $18 and $40 million over the next four years.
“The demand for UFB has been growing at an unprecedented rate,” Thorn adds. “Clearly, consumers want access to fast broadband.
“However, many New Zealanders need to get their neighbour’s consent in order to take the UFB connection down a shared driveway, or right of way. At the moment, if a neighbour simply doesn’t respond to the request for consent, the consumer wanting the connection misses out.
“Broadband connections are no longer a ‘nice to have’. New Zealand has a world class UFB network and it is important that all New Zealanders have the opportunity to connect to this network, and not be beholden to their neighbour.”
Thorn says network operators are using a range of technologies to provide the fibre connection to the consumer’s premises.
“Many of these technologies have a low impact on the shared land,” he adds. “Consequently, the TCF supports the idea that the industry should be able to get on with constructing these low impact installations, after providing advanced notice to all property owners.”
For Thorn, it’s also important for consumers to understand that connecting fibre to their home or office is a construction job.
“A job which requires careful planning and qualified installers,” he adds. “The very high demand for connections means that there will always be some delay.
“To place the size of the task for the industry into perspective, the number of UFB connections is currently about twice the number of new connections the electricity industry is doing, and it is increasing rapidly as consumers understand the benefits of fibre.”
The Government’s announcement has also been welcomed by MyRepublic, who believe the move demonstrates an “important step” toward ensuring all New Zealanders are able to enjoy the vastly superior internet experience provided by fibre broadband.
“This improvement is an important step to address some of these challenges around consent, and ensures consumers who are currently affected by delays, can be connected in a timely and simple process, whilst still respecting the rights of property owners,” says Vaughan Baker, Managing Director, MyRepublic.
“A pragmatic consents process is a critical step in the right direction in creating balance and addressing some of the issues experienced to date during the fibre roll out and we applaud the Government for taking action.
“But we’re not there yet, we’re far from it. In Singapore, our entire fibre installation process is now completed within 5 days and in Indonesia, we’re achieving same day installations in the majority of cases.
“These are the aspirational installation targets that we’d like Chorus and the LFCs to aim for. We recognise New Zealand differs from Singapore and Indonesia in many ways, but we can learn a lot from their fibre deployments.”
At present, Baker says MyRepublic is in discussion with Chorus and the LFCs, as well as their subcontractors, on ways the experience of the MyRepublic Group in the APAC region can be leveraged in the country’s local build.
“These changes mean more New Zealanders will be able to connect to this world class fibre broadband network,” Baker adds.
“MyRepublic will continue to be at the forefront of helping customers take advantage of the fibre revolution, and delivering an awesome internet experience to all kiwis.”
Ultrafast Fibre CEO, William Hamilton, says the changes will help people to connect and access the benefits of fibre faster.
“We support the Minister’s initiative to help make the UFB installation process as efficient and as quick as possible,” he says.
“Our team has been working closely with the industry and officials to get these changes in place - using our own experiences and the voice of the customer to get the message across. We believe this legislative change will have a positive impact for many end users and also for our business.”
Hamilton says there is increasingly high demand for UFB from consumers across the residential, business, health and education sectors.
“We are now completing a significant number of installations each month,” he adds. “Demand for UFB services is growing rapidly and the Minister’s announcement is likely to encourage even more people to connect, as they will be less likely to face the previous constraints and uncertainty.
“Ultrafast Fibre is determined to enhance the connection experience for our Retail Service Providers’ customers who access UFB services over our network. We want to enable them to innovate and leverage all the benefits that UFB brings.”