Thursday, 07 April 2016 12:21

NZ Commerce Commission reviewing ‘non-price’ terms for Chorus’ UBA


New Zealand’s competition enforcement and regulatory agency, the Commerce Commission, is undertaking a review of the regulations under which telecommunications infrastructure provider Chorus charges retail telcos for use of its local copper lines and broadband service.

The Commerce Commission says it is undertaking the review in order to ensure that the regulated Unbundled Bitstream Access (UBA) Standard Terms Determination (STD) “meets the needs of typical end-users over the medium term”.

The Commission on Thursday released a consultation document on the non-price terms of the UBA and is seeking industry feedback on the key issues it will review.

But, the Commission says that while the review is not expected to affect the UBA price, it will consider if any updated calculation of the UBA price is necessary because of a ‘change in circumstances’, as required by the Telecommunications Act.

“However, at this stage we do not envisage that amendments to the UBA STD within the proposed scope will result in a requirement to amend the price,” the Commission said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the UBA STD was first released in 2007, before Chorus was separated from Telecom (now Spark ), and the non-price terms now need to be reviewed to assess whether they are still “fit for purpose in today’s environment”.

“While the regulated UBA service has evolved over time, we recognise that there remains some uncertainty over what Chorus is required to provide. By clarifying the technical features our aim is to ensure the regulated service remains suitable for typical broadband customers, and allows Chorus to develop commercial variants for specific user groups.

“Additionally, having recently completed our TSLRIC pricing review of the UBA service, this review will be helpful in considering whether and how the UBA service description and the TSLRIC pricing principle modelling decisions should be aligned.”

UBA is one method of supplying broadband services – allowing retail telecommunications companies to provide internet services over Chorus’ copper network without the need to install their own equipment in exchanges. The UBA STD sets the price and technical features of the service that Chorus must offer to retail companies.

And, under the current UBA STD, Chorus must offer the designated UBA service at the regulated price but is able - subject to notifying the Commission - to offer commercial variants of UBA services at different prices.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a 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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