Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Judges probe as Chorus appeals Comcom pricing

Judges probe as Chorus appeals Comcom pricing

By Pattrick Smellie

July 31 (BusinessDesk) - Telecommunications infrastructure operator Chorus has opened its case in the Court of Appeal, challenging a High Court decision in April upholding the Commerce Commission's lower-than-expected regulated prices for broadband internet services delivered over the traditional copper wire network.

In opening submissions, David Goddard QC sought to argue the commission had failed in both law and logic when it set the price for unbundled bitstream access (UBA) service at $10.92 a month, far lower than Chorus had anticipated.

He faced sustained questioning from Justices Ellen France, Lyn Stevens and Douglas White on the merits of an argument that depends first on accepting the commission was wrong in the way it applied the price-setting methodology, and that the High Court then accepted those errors, making errors in law itself in the process.

The appeal is one of several strands of activity for Chorus as it attempts to roll back as far as possible regulatory constraints on its earnings, which it says will constrain its ability to fulfil its contract to roll out the the bulk of the government-backed national fibre-optic cable network to accelerate New Zealanders' access to ultra-fast broadband.

The commission is separately reviewing its price-setting methodology, also at Chorus's instigation, with final prices to be set by the end of the year, offering Chorus another potential avenue to achieve higher prices for UBA. It argues the new UBA prices, scheduled to kick in from December, are so low as to risk discouraging consumers from switching to cable-based UFB services, which was the original policy aim of the government's subsidised roll-out.

In reaching the price of $10.92 a month for copper-based UBA services, the commission had erred by setting the rate at the same level as applied in Sweden, which along with Denmark was chosen as a benchmark for establishing New Zealand prices, said Goddard. That was because the commission had concluded that an appropriate rate in New Zealand would be higher than Sweden's.

All three judges questioned that reading of the process and the requirements on the commission, with Justice Stevens challenging Goddard's contention that $10.92 a month was "logically incoherent".

If Goddard was right, that implied "it (UBA pricing) would be logical at $10.93, which rather points to the technical nature of your argument," said Justice Stevens, who suggested the legislation governing regulated price-setting ultimately boiled down to a matter of judgement.

"Yes," replied Goddard. "It is a matter of judgement, but the judgement must be one that isn't internally inconsistent or illogical."

The hearing is continuing.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news