The Commerce Commission is proposing changes to the standards setting the level of service Chorus has to provide retail service providers on its copper lines with a view to ensuring capacity is upgraded to meet demand on the ageing network.
The regulator today released a draft decision on the service requirements for the standard terms determination for unbundled bitstream access, which effectively sets the terms of service Chorus has to offer retailers.
The changes will mean the regulated network operator will have to ensure a segment of the network has uncongested links and require Chorus to report on usage where parts of the lines are nearing capacity.
"In simple terms, our draft decision is that Chorus should upgrade its capacity as needs grow so that retail telecommunications companies and consumers can continue to make the best use of capacity of the copper lines," Stephen Gale, Telecommunications Commissioner said.
"Although the UFB (ultrafast broadband) footprint is expanding rapidly, the copper network will remain an important delivery platform for a significant portion of the population in the near future."
The draft decision comes as tensions rise between Chorus and Spark New Zealand, with the network operator highlighting the benefits of its high-speed copper-based VDSL product, while the retailer is pitching a future where services are delivered on wireless and fibre networks.
The regulator's review of the terms came after Chorus proposed new commercial UBA service and changes to the delivery of regulated services that could have limited performance at peak times in 2014, triggering a complaint from Spark that the network operator was in breach of the rules.
Chorus put its plans on hold and the regulator embarked on the current review.
The commission's preliminary view on VDSL was not to amend the terms, with the current rules requiring "Chorus to provide the regulated UBA service over VDSL where the technology is available and requested by an access seeker," the report said.
Our draft decision is Chorus should upgrade its capacity as needs grow so that retail telecommunications companies and consumers can continue to make the best use of capacity of the copper lines.
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The regulator would exempt about 19,000 lines on Chorus's remote legacy network while it waits on the outcome of the government's second phase of the rural broadband initiative.
Submissions on the draft decision close on Nov. 30 with a final decision scheduled for March next year.