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Copper Decision: Kiwis Gain Half a Billion Dollars

COALITION FOR FAIR INTERNET PRICING

MEDIA RELEASE

5 NOVEMBER 2013

Copper Decision: Kiwis Gain Half a Billion Dollars

Kiwi households and businesses will pay $104 million a year less for copper broadband and voice services from December 2014 as a result of this morning’s decision by independent regulator the Commerce Commission, the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing said today.

The total gain through to the end of 2019 is an estimated $522 million.

The Commission announced this morning that the fair price for copper broadband and voice services was $34.44 per line per month, down 23% from the current $44.98. The Commission’s decision was made under rules legislated for by Steven Joyce in 2011.

“This is a fantastic early Christmas present from the Commerce Commission, which, from next November, will give Kiwi households and businesses over $100 million a year more to be pumped back into the economy through everything from new school shoes for the kids to new technologies to help companies become more productive,” a spokesman for the coalition, Paul Brislen, also chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), said today.

“Our view is that the Commerce Commission has applied Steven Joyce’s 2011 telecommunications legislation correctly and, at $34.44 per month, has come up with a fair price.”

Mr Brislen urged the government to let the benefits of the Commerce Commission ruling flow through to Kiwi households and businesses.

“Any price the government might now propose above $34.44 per month would represent an obvious tax on Kiwi households and businesses in order to subsidise Chorus, an already highly profitable monopolist. Even $35.50 would transfer over a million dollars a month from Kiwi households and businesses to Chorus shareholders, to no benefit to anyone else.”

Mr Brislen said any suggestion today’s price decision could have an impact on the rollout of the government’s ultra-fast broadband initiative (UFB) was “plain wrong”.

“The government has contracts with Chorus and others to build the new world-class fibre broadband network. Ministers should tell them to just get on and do it.

“The 30% of New Zealanders who are expected to want UFB by 2020 and the 75% of Kiwis who will eventually have access to it want it built to contract, while those who will never access to it obviously don’t want to pay a copper tax,” he said.

Mr Brislen said it would be wrong for there to be further confidential calls between Chorus chair Sue Sheldon and the prime minister on the matter.

“There must be transparency in the dealings between regulated monopolists and the government.”

The Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing was founded by Consumer NZ, InternetNZ, and the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) and is supported by CallPlus and Slingshot, the Federation of Maori Authorities, Greypower, Hautaki Trust, KiwiBlog, KLR Holdings, National Urban Maori Authorities, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, Orcon, Rural Women, Te Huarahi Tika Trust and the Unite Union.

A Covec study for the coalition, which has been peer reviewed by Network Strategies and found to be conservative, concluded that the government’s proposed copper tax would cost Kiwi households and businesses between $390 million and $449 million between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2019 over the price for copper broadband and voice services that Commerce Commission work indicates is fair. More recent demands by Chorus would take this cost to Kiwi households and businesses to $979 million.

ENDS

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