Government introduces new Fibre Broadband consent Bill

Government introduces new Fibre Broadband consent Bill
Thursday, July 7, 2016

In what we here at Broadband Compare believe is a fantastic move, the Government has proposed legislation that would provide telecom companies with easier access to shared-access properties by designating implied consent under two categories of Ultra Fast Broadband Fibre to the Premises installation.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said that those living in apartment blocks, (which the government classify as multi-dwelling units) or properties with shared driveways have often been facing delays of connectivity to the UFB's fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network, because the consent of all of the owners is required in order for telcos to begin installing fibre-optic technology to the properties.

"Around 250,000, or 17 percent, of UFB orders will need permission for access to property shared between neighbours, such as shared driveways or in apartment buildings," Adams said.

"This causes delays when there are problems with getting permission from neighbours. By introducing simpler consenting rules, we'll help speed up the installation of UFB to properties where consent from a neighbour is required."

The new Bill, which will be known as The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2016 will aim to provide easier access to property in order to roll out the telecom infrastructure, usually Ultrafast Fibre Broadband, as well as amending the regulations governing dispute resolution and use of the UFB network.

The new Bill will have two different categories.  These are the "tiered consent regime" and will consist of simple approvals designated by the estimated impact the fibre installation is likely to have on a property.

For a category 1 installation, this is defined as those involving existing equipment including conduit or ducts; aerial installations; and installations that only disturb soft surfaces that can easily be restored.

For the more serious category 2 installations we are looking at micro trenching within a designated width; below-surface installations where the only physical impacts are the access, entry, and exit points of a designated size, such as with directional drilling; and open trenching that is no bigger than a prescribed size.

Things aren't quite as black and white as that and there is a little bit of small print, particularly when it comes to category 1 methods of installation.  Putting it simply, the communications minister must be satisfied that the installation won't have "lasting, substantial, physical impact on the property" so basically if someone decides to take fibre broadband out again (why we have no idea!) then it would be a simple job to make it appear as though it had never been there.  In regards to recommending methods to the second category, the minister must be satisfied that the disruption caused to property users during the installation is only going to be temporary, and that any lasting, substantial, and physical impact "is justifiable in support of the mass-market rollout of a telecommunications network".  I.e. Is it worth digging up a path to get fibre into a property.

FttP service providers must still give at least five business days' notice prior to carrying out a category 1 installation, and 15 business days' notice for a category 2 installation. If the property is administered by a corporate body, category 2 conditions must be met regardless of whether it is a category 1 installation.

There will still be other category installations and any installations that fall outside of these categories will still require the consent of all affected owners, so not everything will fall into the new process.  The Bill also provides a dispute-resolution scheme if consent or impact are questioned for an installation that occurs under it.

The new Bill has obvioulsy been welcomed by the major telecoms companies as there have been well documented challenges and issues with some properties gaining consent.  The largest network provider in New Zealand is Chorus and in February they provided an update on the rollout of the UFB, saying they had completed seven of its 24 rollout areas.

"We are almost halfway through the UFB rollout, and continue to activate our planned network areas on schedule," the telco said in its financial results report for the first half of FY16.

"Build work had been finished for about 400,000 premises across our UFB areas at 31 December, meaning approximately 539,000 consumers could connect to our ultra-fast broadband."

The Ultra Fast Broadband rollout was originally planned to provide minimum speeds of 100Mbps up/50Mbps down to 75 percent of the population, but has since been increased to reach 80 percent of the population, with the remaining 20 percent set to be connected to wireless mobile broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), which will provide download speeds of 50Mbps by 2020.  By the end of 2019, 97.8 percent of the NZ population will be covered by either the UFB or the RBI and have access to this incredible speed and technology.  New Zealand will then be pretty much set on having the 3rd best broadband network in the world behind only South Korea and Hong Kong and given the population densities in those countries that is something that New Zealand can be hugely proud of.

So what are you waiting for?  Jump on the fibre revolution now!  Compare plans with Broadband Compare and if you've previously had issues with shared driveways or multi person consent then that should soon be a thing of the past because you can invoke the new Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2016 and get that fibre broadband connection that you were previously denied!

The New Zealand government is accepting submissions on its UFB property access Bill until August 18 when hopefully this flies through and becomes law.  Long live the internet!

A version of this article first appeared on ZDNet



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