Telecommunications service obligations

The telecommunications service obligations (TSO) regulatory framework established under the Telecommunications Act 2001 enables specific telecommunications services to be available and affordable.

TSO providers

A telecommunications service obligation (TSO) is established through an agreement under the Telecommunications Act between the Crown and a TSO provider.

Currently there are 2 TSO providers:

  • Spark (supported by Chorus) is the TSO provider for the local residential telephone service, which includes charge-free local calling
  • Concentrix is the provider for the New Zealand relay service for deaf, hearing-impaired and speech-impaired people.

New Zealand relay service

Charges paid to TSO providers

Costs for subsiding telecommunications services supplied under TSOs are funded through the Telecommunications Development Levy. This levy is collected from the telecommunications industry.

The Commerce Commission works out the TSO charge paid to a TSO provider and the proportion of the Telecommunications Development Levy each provider is liable for.

TSOs that cease to apply under the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Act 2018

Under the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Act 2018, the TSOs which apply to Chorus and Spark will cease to apply in areas which have fibre. Consumers in these areas will have access to affordable fibre-based landline and broadband services.

More information

TSO Deed with Chorus:

2011 Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) Deed for TSO Network Services [PDF, 463 KB]

Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSO) deed for local residential telephone services [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Exchange of letters between Telecom and the Crown [PDF, 212 KB]


Last updated: 21 February 2023