13 Apr 2015

Govt eyes law change for broadband rollout

6:36 am on 13 April 2015

The Government is considering a tweak of property laws to speed up the roll out of ultra fast broadband.

Industry players welcome the move, but say it is taking too long and the delay is hurting businesses that want to connect to high speed internet, but cannot.

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Chorus says the system for gaining consent to install ultra fast broadband adds cost and complexity to the process. Photo: RNZ

Crown Fibre Holdings, which is responsible for the rollout of ultra fast broadband, said connections were running to schedule and the take-up of the technology was at a much higher than anticipated 15 per cent.

However, telecommunications companies said take-up would be higher if the rules around property rights concerning shared driveways and apartment buildings were changed.

At the moment, a homeowner on a shared driveway must get approval from all the owners on that driveway before they can connect their home to ultra fast broadband.

Apartment dwellers and businesses with shared offices must also get permission from the building owner.

Telecommunication Users' Association chief executive Craig Young said that permission was often hard to obtain if there were multiple owners or they were based overseas.

In one case he had heard of, ownership of a long driveway was disputed, with no-one wanting to claim it, so no-one could be found to give approval.

Chorus spokesman Ian Bonnar said one solution would be for New Zealand to move to Australia's model, in which properties bordering a driveway were notified and given the opportunity to object, and if no concerns were lodged the proposal was assumed to be accepted.

"Here in New Zealand you have to get a positive response from everybody, and that can take extra time or people lose the mail, or it just adds in a little bit of cost and complexity," he said.

Communications Minister Amy Adams declined to be interviewed by Radio New Zealand, but said in a statement officials were looking at how they might overcome some of those issues, including whether a law change was needed.

"As more and more people take up UFB we are gaining a better understanding of the nature and scale of some of the challenges that can be encountered with a programme this ambitious.

"Whatever we do in this space will need to achieve a fair and sensible balance between promoting efficiency in the rollout of UFB on one hand and respecting people's rights to enjoyment over their property on the other," said the statement.

Tuanz's Craig Young said he understood the minister's caution, but a resolution was taking far too long.

The Government wants 75 per cent of the country to have access to Ultra Fast Broadband by 2020.