23 Feb 2016

Ultra-Fast Broadband plan targets feuding neighbours

12:56 pm on 23 February 2016

The days of feuding neighbours blocking one another's ability to get Ultra-Fast Broadband could be about to end.

The government is taking steps to limit neighbour's ability to block installation.

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As many as 13 percent of Ultra-Fast Broadband requests involve common property. Photo: RNZ

The roll-out of Ultra-Fast Broadband is proceeding fast, with almost 19,000 applications in December alone.

But Communications Minister Amy Adams said about 13 percent of all orders required access to common property, such as shared driveways.

About a quarter of those applications were blocked because householders could not get permission from their neighbours but a neighbourhood war should not prevent access to new technology, she said.

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Amy Adams Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ms Adams was developing legislation which would reduce or eliminate the ability of neighbours to block broadband applications depending on the extent of the work required.

To achieve this, the whole issue would be divided into several different grades.

Category one installations were those where there were no lasting impacts on a property, such as those which would disturb only grass or other soft surfaces.

In such cases - estimated to cover about 37 percent of installations in shared driveways - fibre applicants would be entitled to proceed as of right after giving five working days' notice.

Category two installations were those which would have some lasting impact on property, such as drilling a cable underground and leaving small potholes to access the network for maintenance.

For these installations, accounting for about 51 percent of installations in shared driveways, neighbours would have to be provided with a high-level design and given 15 working days' to object, after which they would be deemed to have given consent.

The remaining 12 percent of installation methods would involve work so invasive they would be subject to existing rules.

In all cases, the person wanting the installation would be responsible for all costs incurred.

Internet New Zealand and the Telecommunications Users Association spokespeople welcomed the changes.

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