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
  • Sprint International is the TSO provider for the New Zealand relay service for deaf, hearing-impaired and speech-impaired people.

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 new Bill

Under the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill, 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

Local Service TSO Deed with Sprint:

2011 Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) Deed for Telecommunication Relay Services [PDF, 843 KB] 

TSO Deed with Chorus:

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

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