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Faster, better broadband bill introduced

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Communications

Faster, better broadband bill introduced

Legislation to enact the Labour-led government's pledge to bring New Zealanders faster, better broadband Internet services has been introduced to Parliament.

The Telecommunications Amendment Bill implements the government's pre-budget telecommunications stocktake package announced on May 3.

It provides for unbundling the local telephone loop to allow vigorous competition between internet service providers for the home and business market, says Communications Minister David Cunliffe.

"This bill will help New Zealand catch up with leading OECD countries by promoting competition that will speed up the provision of fast, multi-faceted broadband internet services," Mr Cunliffe said.

The bill extends the scope of the act's regulatory regime by:

· Introducing local loop unbundling and three supporting services that provide for backhaul and co-location of competitors' equipment in telephone exchanges and roadside cabinets; and

· Amending the existing unbundled bitstream service (which is a form of wholesale broadband) and its supporting backhaul service to remove constraints.

"It also clarifies that an access-seeker can purchase this wholesale service without any requirement to purchase an analogue telephone service – this is often alternatively described as being able to purchase 'naked DSL' and should lead to more innovations in services," the minister said.

As promised in the May 3 package, the bill also contains "accounting separation" provisions to empower the Commerce Commission to require Telecom to prepare and disclose transparent information about its retail and wholesale business activities as if they were independent entities.

The bill also addresses a number of implementation issues that have arisen with the existing processes in the act. The government agreed on appropriate actions to these issues in late 2005, after the conclusion of an implementation review.

"As signalled in the package, I will move that the select committee examining this bill seek public submissions on the options of operational and structural separation," Mr Cunliffe said.

ENDS

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