Final telecommunications reform package announced

  • Simon Bridges

Communications Minister Simon Bridges today announced the final details of the Government’s reform package to improve the Telecommunications Act and modernise the communications sector.

The final package will introduce a more predictable utility-style model for Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre, deregulate copper lines where fibre is available, and improve the quality of service for consumers by increasing regulatory oversight.

“UFB is already available to more than one million homes and businesses in New Zealand, and over 85 per cent of New Zealanders will be able to access the high speed network by 2024,” Mr Bridges says.

“As the copper network is essentially being replaced by UFB, it is appropriate that copper regulation be removed from 2020. It makes sense to focus on the services that most people will be using.

“However, to make sure people are protected, copper will continue to be regulated outside of UFB coverage areas. Safeguards will also be put in place to make sure that customers do not lose their copper landline unless there is an alternative service available at a comparable price and service level.”

To complement the final fixed regulation package, the Government is also ensuring the Commission can respond quickly if issues arise in the mobile market, and putting in place new measures to lift the level of consumer service quality in the telecommunications sector.

“Telecommunications services have become much more important to everyday life and business in New Zealand, and the current regulatory settings needed to be refreshed,” Mr Bridges says.

“We have heard from a range of parties as proposals have been developed, and have listened to feedback we received, making a number of changes.

“Overall, the final package reduces compliance costs for industry and further encourages innovation and investment, for the long term benefit of consumers,” Mr Bridges says.

The new regime is expected to be implemented from 2020. 

More information on the Telecommunications Act review package is available here.

Attached: Q&A on Telecommunications Act 2001 final regulatory framework