Home Telecoms & NBN Chorus must keep UBA service congestion-free, says NZ Commerce Commission

New Zealand’s competition enforcement and regulatory agency wants the largest telecommunications infrastructure provider, Chorus, to upgrade its capacity as needs grow so that telcos and consumers have best use of the capacity of copper lines.

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.

Telecommunications commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said there had been general agreement throughout the review that the UBA service should track consumer demand.

“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.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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