Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Land rules changed to speed up UFB install

The new changes to consent would mean the wait time for installation will be halved for most people wanting to connect to ultra-fast broadband. Photo / NZME
The new changes to consent would mean the wait time for installation will be halved for most people wanting to connect to ultra-fast broadband. Photo / NZME

Changes to consenting rules announced today should mean a more streamlined process for the installation of ultra-fast broadband (UFB) into New Zealand homes and businesses.

Communication Minister Amy Adams said this morning that the first phase of Land Access Reforms would reduce delays and frustrations with getting properties connected to UFB.

Around 13 per cent of all requests for connection to the fibre network require permission for access to property shared between neighbours, and a quarter of those requests are then cancelled, Adams said.

"The demand for UFB is ramping up with over 18,700 orders in December alone. New Zealanders want changes made to make it easier and quicker to connect to UFB."

Two new categories for simple approvals have been created with the changes, which should halve the average wait time for installation. At least 80 per cent of orders that require consent could fall within one of the two new categories, Adams said.

Requests outside these two categories will continue to require consent of all affected owners as currently occurs.

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Today Vodafone Consumer Director, Matt Williams said the company was pleased the government was working to simplify the installation process.

"Some of our customers have told us how frustrating it is to get connected to fibre due to access on shared driveways or cross-leases. Previously they would need to carry out an extensive consent process to install fibre into their home."

Telecommunications Users Association NZ chief executive Craig Young said customers shouldn't be waiting to be connecting for as long as they are.

"A quick and painfree install process is vital to the success of the UFB programme."

The announcement from the Communication Minister comes after an industry forum discussed the shortfalls with the rollout of the fibre network.

Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said at the Telecommunications New Zealand Forum that the industry was struggling to meet demand for requests to connect to the network.

Communications Minister Amy Adams.
Communications Minister Amy Adams.

"Undoubtedly we don't have enough technician resources to meet the work coming through," he said. "We need twice as many technicians as we've currently got."

Today Nathan Beaumont, spokesman for Chorus, said the company was supportive of the new legislation, which would make it "easier in general" for people to get connected.

"We've been working through this with the Government and MBIE for a while now," he said.

Last week, while announcing Spark's half-yearly financial result, managing director Simon Moutter said customers' interest to connect to ultra-fast broadband was "booming".

He said he remained "cautious about what is still a very clumsy customer experience".

Adams said a "neighbour-at-war standoff" shouldn't stop anyone from accessing ultra-fast broadband.

"In making these decisions, the Government has endeavoured to strike the right balance between simplifying consent requirements, while still respecting the rights of property owners," Adams said.

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"A modern, effective and fair land access framework will ensure that people are not prevented from realising the benefits of UFB in situations where their neighbours can't be contacted, don't take the time to complete the required paperwork or decline the request due to an unrelated conflict."

"An alternate disputes resolution process will also be provided to consider any resulting disputes. The scheme will be similar to that which operates in respect of the electricity and gas industries."

The legislation will include an expiry date of January 1 2025, when the fibre roll-out should be completed.

Managing director of MyRepublic NZ, Vaughan Baker, said the company welcomed the step forward, but that New Zealand still had a long way to go in order to make the roll out the best it can be.

See examples of installations that would fall under new categories here:

- NZ Herald

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