The Commerce Commission made its comments when handing down its final decision in a review of the non-price features of the Unbundled Bitstream Access (UBA) service. This service enables retail telcos to provide Internet services over Chorus’ copper network without installing their own equipment in exchanges.
The commission reset UBA prices in 2015 and subsequently reviewed the service that Chorus must provide to retail companies. This was meant to ensure that the UBA service could continue to be used by retailers to provide the “best possible range of competitive broadband services over copper”.
In its final decision, the main change has been to add a standard that requires Chorus to keep its UBA service free of congestion as traffic grows.
“While migration to the new fibre network is progressing apace, UBA will remain a key input for retail broadband for some time yet, particularly in areas beyond the reach of the ultrafast broadband initiative.
“We are confident that the new standard will not lead to inefficient investment, even if copper is deregulated in UFB areas as currently proposed by MBIE.”
Dr Gale said the commission had exempted about 19,000 lines in Chorus’ remote legacy networks from the new service standards until it was clear how much the service to these consumers would be upgraded in the second phase of the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative.
The commission’s decision followed release of a draft decision late last year. It had concluded then that Chorus should upgrade its capacity as needs grow so that retail telecommunications companies and consumers could continue to benefit from the copper lines.