Have your say - Protections for consumers that Chorus wants to move off copper broadband

Pulling the plug on copper broadband - have your say
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Commerce Commission wants your feedback on protections for consumers that Chorus wants to move off copper and broadband services.

The Commerce Commission is seeking feedback on its draft ‘copper withdrawal code’. The code is intended to protect consumers that Chorus wants to move off its old copper network onto faster and more reliable technologies such as fibre networks.

What is the Copper Withdrawal Code?

“By 2022, most New Zealanders are expected to have access to fibre at home. That means large parts of the traditional copper phone and broadband network may no longer be needed,” said Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale.

“To ensure consumers are protected, the Commission has designed the copper withdrawal code that Chorus, the provider of New Zealand’s copper telecommunications network, must follow.”

The draft code sets minimum requirements that Chorus must meet before it will be able to stop providing copper services, such as landlines and ADSL or VDSL broadband, to a consumer – including that equivalent services must be provided over fibre.

 “The code ensures consumers who are still using copper services will get at least 6 months’ notice, be provided with information about moving to fibre, and – if they order it – have fibre installed at their home before the copper services can be stopped,” said Dr Gale.

"The earliest Chorus can stop supplying these services is after the code is finalised from late-2020 and only in the areas where fibre is available to be installed in homes and once the consumer protections of the code are met. In areas where fibre is not currently available Chorus must continue to supply services over the copper network.

What does discontinuation of copper broadband mean for me?

These changes mean that if you live in an area where fibre broadband is installed, and Chorus meet the requirements in the new Copper Withdrawal code, you may have no choice but to use fibre.

There are lots of advantages to fibre broadband, it is much quicker and more reliable than copper-based ADSL and VDSL services. At Broadband Compare we are already seeing more and more clients switch to a fibre. But, currently around 8% of customers who switch with Broadband Compare and had fibre available to them chose not to subscribe to it. This is the group that could be affected by the copper withdrawal code and forced to change.

In the past, ADSL or VDSL broadband plans tended to be more competitively priced than fibre broadband. But, as fibre broadband has become more widely available we have seen a general trend where Fibre broadband plans have become cheaper and broadband customers have adopted fibre plan in their thousands. In fact, fibre is now the most popular type of broadband plan!

This is a great time to evaluate your current broadband plan and see how much you could save by upgrading to fibre.

Upgrade to fibre

How to have your say on the Copper Withdrawal Code

The Commerce Commission want to hear from you if you think you will be affected by the withdrawal of copper.

Dr Gale says, “We are inviting feedback from individual consumers and advocacy groups about the proposed code. We’re also interested in hearing views about any additional protections needed for consumers during the transition to fibre that could be addressed by the code.”

Submissions can be made via the Commission's website by 5pm on 17 July 2020.

The final code is expected to be finalised and published in September 2020.

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