8 Sep 2015

Review of NZ's telecommunications launched

3:14 pm on 8 September 2015

A government review of New Zealand's telecommunications will look at wholesale prices for fixed line services, the movement from copper wires to fibre, and regulation of mobile phones and the radio spectrum.

The review will also consider net neutrality, which involves making sure the owners of copper wire or fibre do not use their position to enhance their own software services at the expense of competitors.

The government has released a discussion paper today and is seeking responses.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Amy Adams Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Communications Minister Amy Adams said a lot had changed since the Telecommunications Act was passed in 2001, and New Zealand needed better regulation for the modern world.

Ms Adams said digital convergence, new technology and innovation were transforming the way New Zealanders lived, worked and did business, and this review was needed to support investment and innovation.

At least 80 percent of New Zealanders would have access to fibre and 90 percent would have 4G mobile coverage by 2022.

"For this reason it's vital we have the right regulatory settings to support the future of communications in New Zealand beyond 2020," Ms Adams said.

The telecommunications review is one of the workstreams the government has underway as part of its digital convergence programme.

"Like other countries around the world, New Zealand is grappling with issues of rapid transformation of its communications sectors. It's important to ensure our regulatory system is well positioned to support this period of rapid change," Ms Adams said.

Chorus, Spark back review

Network operator Chorus said the review was needed, and it was in nobody's interest to have a regulatory process that potentially produced price shocks and uncertainty, every year.

"The review is an opportunity to set the industry up for success for the future and enable it to focus on end users' changing needs," Chorus general counsel Vanessa Oakley said.

Digital and telecommunications provider Spark said ensuring certainty for industry players should be the main thrust of the review - particularly as the sector looks at extending new mobile broadband technologies "deep into rural New Zealand".

The government wants written feedback on the report by the end of October, with plans for more consultation next year, followed by legislative changes, if appropriate.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs