Policy and regulation

The Government plays a key role in ensuring the regulatory framework for New Zealand’s telecommunications networks meet the needs of consumers and businesses, and help keep our economy growing.

Property access for telecommunications

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act makes it easier for people to connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) in cases involving shared property. It introduced a new, simplified consenting process that telecommunications companies must follow when installing modern networks like UFB, where the consent of more than one party is required.

The Amendment Act also incentivises telecommunications network operators to use lower impact methods of installation to reduce property disruption, and enables the use of existing infrastructure such as electricity lines for deploying fibre in rural areas.

People living in shared property (such as a multi-unit building) or living in a house that is accessed via shared property (such as a driveway jointly owned with neighbours) who have previously experienced problems connecting to UFB due to consent issues are encouraged to contact their retail service provider to enquire about placing a new order to connect.

Tiered Consent Regime

The Amendment Act established a new tiered consenting regime that supports different fibre installation methods. Depending on the impact an installation method has on the property that neighbours share, the installation is specified as one of two categories.
Each category has a different consent requirement.

Category One methods have no lasting impacts on the shared property, such as a fibre cable buried in grass on the side of a driveway. For these installations, network operators installing fibre will not require consent but will need to provide neighbours with no fewer than five working days’ notice.

Category Two methods have lasting impacts, for example an incision about 1 cm wide being made in a concrete drive to conceal a cable and is then reinstated. However, the impacts are still considered justifiable in support of the mass market rollout of a next-generation telecommunications network like fibre.

For these installations, neighbours will be provided a high-level design of what is proposed and will have 15 working days to object, based on a limited number of grounds. If they do not object within that timeframe, their consent is deemed.

Grounds for objecting are the person:

  • disputes ownership of property that the proposed installation will make use of or disturb
  • can demonstrate that the installation will have a materially negative impact on the value of the person’s property
  • can identify ways in which the proposed installation will unreasonably impact on the person’s enjoyment of the property, or worsen an existing problem with the property, other than by having a visual impact alone
  • can demonstrate that the proposed installation will impede the person’s plans for development of the property
  • has an easement over the property affected and can demonstrate that the proposed installation will have an enduring impact on the terms and conditions of that easement.

This category will not apply for shared property that is overseen by a governing body (such as a body corporate) – in these instances Category One installation methods will be subject to Category Two consent requirements.

Installations that have an impact beyond these two categories are outside the scope of this regime, and will continue to require the express written consent of all affected owners. For example, if the length of a driveway needs to be dug up it will still require all parties to actively consent.

Regulations

The Telecommunications (Property Access) Regulations 2017 prescribe the fibre installation methods and requirements that fall under each category, as well as other details to give effect to the property access regime.

Dispute Resolution Scheme

The Amendment Act created a new dispute resolution scheme to protect property owners, ensuring that any disputes that arise as a result of the new consenting regime are dealt with fairly and efficiently. Network operators must become members of the scheme in order to use the rights of access.

In July 2017, Utilities Disputes Limited was appointed by the Minister for Communications as the approved scheme provider.

The Scheme is free-of-charge for property owners and consumers to use. The Scheme relates only to disputes arising from the use, or intended use, of the statutory rights of access granted by the Amendment Act for shared property.

The Scheme only handles disputes in relation to shared real property (for example, land and buildings in which multiple parties have an ownership interest) for which a statutory right of access is being exercised by a network operator.

Any complaints or disputes concerning damage to other property can be referred in the first instance to the respective network operator.

Visit the Utilities Disputes website for more information on dispute resolution or to raise a complaint with the Scheme.

Fibre on electricity lines

The Amendment Act enables the use of existing infrastructure (such as electricity lines) for deploying fibre optic cable in rural areas.

Owners of existing works (including power poles, overhead lines, and other infrastructure connected with the provision of electricity) will now be able to enter the land on which those works are located, and use the works to deploy, maintain, and upgrade fibre optic cable for delivering telecommunications services.

To balance out the impact of the right of entry on a private landowner’s property rights, the landowner is entitled to receive free or subsidised access to a fibre connection (depending on the length of the lead-in).

Utilising existing infrastructure for this purpose will provide an opportunity to improve rural connectivity in a cost-effective way, while also making progress towards connecting as many New Zealanders as possible to better communications networks.

 

National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities

The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities) Regulations 2016 (NESTF) came into effect on 1 January 2017, replacing the previous 2008 regulations.

The NESTF enables quicker and easier installation of low impact infrastructure by telecommunications companies, speeding up access to broadband for consumers.

The NESTF provides greater national consistency, and removes the requirement for resource consents for equipment such as cabinets, poles and aerials, provided key standards are met. This saves time and money for both telecommunications companies and local councils, while ensuring any effects on the environment are minimised and managed appropriately.

 

Users' Guide to the NESTF

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, with support from the Ministry for the Environment and the NESTF Technical Advisory Group, has developed a users' guide to help councils and the telecommunications industry understand and implement the NESTF.

The users' guide was developed after public consultation to ensure it provides appropriate information and guidance to support effective implementation of the NESTF.

Further information about the NESTF and National Environmental Standards more generally can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

Policy documents

A number of documents have been released in the interests of transparency and open governance. You can find more information at the links below.

 

Phase One Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative

Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) is being rolled out across New Zealand in partnership with a number of different fibre companies.

Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) was formed as a Crown-owned company to manage the Government's investment in Ultra-Fast Broadband infrastructure. CFH completed its initial task of selecting partners to participate in the UFB initiative in 2011. The telecommunications industry has recently sought clarification of the subsequent role of CFH over the period during which the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network is being built, and around the setting of prices on the UFB network.

Following discussion between the telecommunications sector and the Ministry of Economic Development and CFH, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the Minister of Finance have written to the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) clarifying CFH's role.

 

Phase one broadband initiative documents

Open access deeds of undertaking

The government’s broadband partners in the first phase of the UFB and RBI initiatives were required to submit ‘Deeds of undertaking’ to confirm open access on their fibre networks.

Telecom has also submitted a draft deed of undertaking for open access on its legacy fixed copper network, pursuant to section 41 of the Telecommunications Act 2001.

Copies of the deeds:

Letters from the Minister of Communications and Information Technology approving the deeds:

 

Phase one Rural Broadband Initiative open access requirements

Any network infrastructure that is funded through the first phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative must be open access, and provide for a range of services being provided from a range of retail providers.

Vodafone Undertakings

The Ministry consulted with the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) and other industry stakeholders on the open access obligations that would bind Vodafone under the RBI. Eight submissions were received.

PDF versions of the individual submissions received are available below:

 

Telecom Undertakings

Telecom has structurally separated into New Telecom and Chorus. Chorus is bound by the non-discrimination rules of the company’s Operational Separation Undertakings, and subsequent structural separation.

Under the Rural Broadband Initiative, certain rural telecommunications services are to be subsidised by the government and offered to priority users at a lower price than the same, or similar, services are provided, over the same network, to other customers.

Telecom proposed a variation to the operational separation undertakings to clarify how certain rural telecommunications services would be treated under non-discrimination rules under the Rural Broadband Initiative contract with the government.

 

Phase one Rural Broadband Initiative contracts

The government has reached agreements with a number of infrastructure providers for a $300 million infrastructure roll out that will bring more and faster broadband to rural areas over the next six years.

Agreements have been signed with Chorus and Vodafone for the rollout of faster broadband to rural areas through a combination of wireless and fixed line technologies.

The agreements include:

  • Chorus extending their existing fibre network by approximately 3,100 kilometres, with some homes on route being provided with the opportunity of fibre to the premise at urban prices
  • Chorus extending urban-like broadband speeds to 57 per cent of rural customers
  • the construction of 154 new fibre-connected cell phone towers and the upgrading of 380 existing cell towers to enable fixed wireless broadband to rural customers, as well as improved mobile coverage
  • 86 per cent of rural houses and businesses having access to broadband peak speeds of at least 5Mbps (compared with 20 per cent of rural homes and businesses at present; the RBI objective was 80 per cent)
  • an upgrade path to 4G if this is rolled out by Vodafone in the future, which will enable even higher speeds to be offered
  • the extension of mobile coverage by 6,200 square kilometres to 125,700 square kilometres of rural New Zealand
  • 799 rural schools connecting directly to fibre networks, and 48 schools having digital microwave radio connections – this equates to 95 per cent of rural schools having access to ultra-fast broadband speeds of 100Mbps (the RBI objective was 93 per cent)
  • wholesale prices for faster broadband comparable to urban pricing
  • all competitors to Chorus and Vodafone being able to access rural broadband infrastructure funded by the government on a non-discriminatory basis.

The Rural Broadband Initiative contracts between the Ministry and Chorus (previously part of Telecom) and Vodafone were signed on 20 April 2011. Agreements have been signed with Chorus and Network Tasman to deploy fibre to 193 additional provincial schools, 43 rural hospitals, 10 health centres, and 183 public libraries.

Agreements have been signed with Inspire.net, Gisborne.net, Chorus, and Araneo to connect 57 remote schools and their surrounding communities with fast wireless broadband.

Read the industry Q&A for technical information on the RBI [PDF 39KB]

Government Policy Statement

The Statement of Economic Policy from the Minister for Communications and Information Technology to the Commerce Commission in relation to incentives for businesses to invest in ultra-fast broadband infrastructure.

 

Other communications material

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment undertakes a range of other work within the Communications portfolio: