The Government is planning a package of telecommunications reforms including the creation of a utility model for Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and the deregulation of copper lines where fibre is available.
Also on the agenda for 2020 is increased regulatory oversight to improve the quality of services.
The proposed changes were welcomed by major telco service provider today, but were described as a "mixed bag for consumers" by internet industry group Internet NZ.
"As the copper network is essentially being replaced by UFB, it is appropriate that copper regulation be removed from 2020," Communications Minister Simon Bridges said. "It makes sense to focus on the services that most people will be using."
Bridges said the Telecommunications Act review will reduce compliance costs for industry and encourage innovation and investment.
Copper will continue to be regulated outside of UFB coverage areas and safeguards will be put in place to make sure customers do not lose their copper landline unless there is an alternative service available at a comparable price and service level, Bridges said.
Wholesale prices for copper services in non-UFB areas will also be inflation adjusted and network operator Chorus will be subject to a revenue cap from 2020.
The plan aims to ensure a clear value is set for regulated assets with a predictable process for updating this over time, a Q&A document (pdf) said.
"There will also be a clear process for approval in advance of new investments, similar to that which applies to the electricity grid operator Transpower," the Government said.
Chorus will be required to supply price-regulated anchor products, initially an entry-level broadband product and a voice-only product.
The Commerce Commission will also be required to set clear rules before 2020 that outline its approach to how assets will be valued and costs recovered.
The Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO), which provides for price-capped landline and dial-up services, will be removed except in areas where UFB or other fibre is not available.
UFB is currently available to more than one million homes and businesses and it is expected over 85% of New Zealanders will be able to access the high speed network by 2024.
To complement the fixed-line regulations, the Government is also empowering the Commerce Commission to respond quickly to issues in the mobile market and putting in place new measures to lift levels service quality in the sector.
The direct fibre access service used by mobile operators and large businesses to provide dedicated fibre links to mobile towers will also be price-capped.
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