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Next Generation Network study terms

Media Release

Issued 20 May 2008/no 146

Next Generation Network study terms of reference announced


Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Ross Patterson has released the final terms of reference for the Commerce Commission’s study into Next Generation Networks (NGN). The terms of reference outline the aims and scope of the study, as well as giving an indicative timeframe.


The study, which was announced in March, will focus on raising the level of understanding of the Commission, industry and the wider community of key technological developments that will emerge during the next five years, and their impact on the commercial and competitive environment for telecommunications services.
Dr Patterson said, “The overall aim of the study is to develop a strategic view on NGN issues.


The study is the first under the Commission’s new sector monitoring powers. Unlike our investigation powers under Schedule 3 of the Act, the Section 9A powers allow the Commission to take a strategic view with no particular bias, for, or against, regulation.”

“The Commission is entering into this process with no assumptions about the requirement for, or scope of likely regulation, and will be guided by information and submissions that arise during the process. The response to the study from the industry has been very positive, and industry submissions assisted to develop our terms of reference,” said Dr Patterson.

“In particular, the submissions identified Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as an urgent priority. The submissions also indicated that the study should not focus solely on Telecom’s cabinetisation plans and should be technology neutral,” Dr Patterson said.


As well as helping to identify the issues where there is consensus on NGN, and where and how views diverge, the Commission expects that the study will assist in providing a strategic assessment of the likely impact of technological change on market structure and competition in the telecommunications market.
As part of the study, the Commission intends to hold a public conference featuring international experts.
The final terms of reference for the NGN study are on the Commission’s website www.comcom.govt.nz under IndustryRegulation –Telecommunications -Inquiries, Reviews and Studies

Background

Section 9A (1) (b) of the Telecommunications Act (2001), as amended in December 2006, empowers the Commerce Commission to proactively conduct inquiries, reviews and studies into any matter relating to the telecommunications industry or the long-term benefits of end-users of the telecommunications services within New Zealand. This new power enables the Commission to take a strategic view of any matter that relates to the telecommunications industry.

Next generation networks is the term used to describe the replacement of existing telecommunication networks such as Telecom’s PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) with new packet based all Internet Protocol (IP) networks, and the replacement of the copper access network with fibre either to the cabinet or the home. A packet is a formatted block of data carried by a packet mode computer network.

Computer communications links that do not support packets, such as traditional point-to-point telecommunications links, simply transmit data as a series of bytes, characters, or bits alone. When data is formatted into packets, the bit rate of the communication medium can better be shared among users than if the network would have been circuit switched.

ENDS


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