Fast broadband policy and regulation
We are responsible for a range of policy and regulations that control and facilitate broadband and mobile infrastructure, including property access and dispute resolution for UFB installations, and environmental standards.
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 encourages telecommunications network operators to use lower-impact methods of installation to reduce disruptions to property. The Amendment Act also enables network operators to use existing infrastructure such as electricity lines for deploying fibre in rural areas.
If you live in a shared property (eg, a multi-unit building) or a house accessed via shared property (eg, a shared driveway) and you have had problems connecting to UFB due to consent issues, we encourage you to contact your retail service provider to place a new connection order.
Tiered Consent Regime
The Amendment Act established a new tiered consenting regime that supports different fibre installation methods.
An installation is specified as 1 of 2 categories depending on the impact the installation method has on the property that neighbours share. Each category has a different consent requirement:
- Category 1 methods have no lasting impacts on the shared property, eg, a fibre cable buried in grass on the side of a driveway. For these installations, network operators installing fibre won't need consent but must provide neighbours with no less than 5 working days’ notice.
- Category 2 methods have lasting impacts, eg, digging into and resealing a small part of a concrete drive to conceal a cable. 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 don't object within that timeframe, their consent is deemed.
Grounds for objecting
Grounds for objecting to a Category 2 installation are that the person:
- disputes ownership of property that the proposed installation will make use of or disturb
- can show that the installation will have a materially negative impact on the value of their property
- can identify ways in which the proposed installation will unreasonably impact on their enjoyment of the property, or worsen an existing problem with the property, other than by having a visual impact alone
- can show that the proposed installation will impede their plans for development of the property
- has an easement over the affected property and can show that the proposed installation will have an enduring impact on the terms and conditions of that easement.
Category 1 doesn't apply to shared property overseen by a governing body (eg, a body corporate). In this case, Category 1 installation methods will be subject to Category 2 consent requirements.
Installations with an impact beyond these 2 categories are outside the scope of this regime and will continue to require the written consent of all affected owners eg, if the length of a driveway needs to be dug up it will still need all parties to actively consent.
Regulations for fibre installation
The Telecommunications (Property Access) Regulations 2017 set 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. This ensures 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, the Minister for Communications appointed Utilities Disputes Limited as the approved scheme provider.
The scheme is free-of-charge for property owners and consumers to use. It 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 for shared land or buildings (eg, 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.
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) can now 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).
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 the main 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
With support from the Ministry for the Environment and the NESTF Technical Advisory Group, we have developed a users' guide to help councils and the telecommunications industry understand and implement the NESTF.
The 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.
Related policy documents
We have released the following ultra-fast broadband policy documents in the interests of transparency and open governance.
The Minister for Communications and the Minister of Finance’s letter to the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) on Crown Infrastructure Partners’ role in the UFB programme:
The Statement of Economic Policy from the Minister for Communications to the Commerce Commission in relation to incentives for businesses to invest in ultra-fast broadband infrastructure:
The 2 Regulatory Impact Statements that inform the development of amendments to the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative model:
Phase 1 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 UFB infrastructure. It completed its initial task of selecting partners to participate in the UFB initiative in 2011. The telecommunications industry has recently sought clarification of CFH's role during the building of the UFB network and setting of network prices.
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 1 broadband initiative documents
Open access deeds of undertaking
The Government’s broadband partners in the first phase of the UFB and Rural Broadband Initiative (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, in accordance with section 41 of the Telecommunications Act 2001.
Copies of the deeds:
Letters from the Minister of Communications and Information Technology approving the deeds:
Phase 1 Rural Broadband Initiative open access requirements
Any network infrastructure that is funded through the first phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) must be open access, and provide for a range of services being provided from a range of retail providers.
We consulted with the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) and other industry stakeholders on the open access obligations that would bind Vodafone under the RBI. We received 8 submissions.
PDF versions of the individual submissions received are available below:
New Zealand Regional Fibre Group
Telecom has structurally separated into Telecom and Chorus. Chorus is bound by the non-discrimination rules of the company’s Operational Separation Undertakings, and subsequent structural separation.
Under the RBI, the Government will subsidise some rural telecommunications services and offer these services 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 RBI contract with the Government.
Phase 1 Rural Broadband Initiative contracts
The Government has reached agreements with a number of infrastructure providers for a $300 million infrastructure roll out to bring more and faster broadband to rural areas over the next 6 years.
Agreements were signed with Chorus and Vodafone and include:
- Chorus extending its 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% of rural customers
- constructing 154 new fibre-connected cell phone towers and upgrading 380 existing cell towers to enable fixed wireless broadband to rural customers, as well as improved mobile coverage
- 86% of rural houses and businesses having access to broadband peak speeds of at least 5Mbps (compared with 20% currently - the RBI objective was 80%)
- an upgrade path to 4G if this is rolled out by Vodafone in the future, which will enable even higher speeds to be offered
- extending 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% of rural schools having access to ultra-fast broadband speeds of 100Mbps (the RBI objective was 93%)
- 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, Chorus (previously part of Telecom) and Vodafone were signed on 20 April 2011. Agreements were signed with Chorus and Network Tasman to deploy fibre to:
- 193 additional provincial schools
- 43 rural hospitals
- 10 health centres
- 183 public libraries.
Agreements have were signed with Inspire.net, Gisborne.net, Chorus and Araneo to connect 57 remote schools and their surrounding communities with fast wireless broadband.