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Commission Takes Court Action Against One NZ For Endangering Vulnerable Consumers

The Commerce Commission has filed proceedings in the High Court against One NZ (formerly Vodafone) for multiple breaches of the 111 Contact Code – some of which the Commission alleges are still ongoing.

Telecommunications Commissioner, Tristan Gilbertson, says the Code was put in place to ensure that vulnerable consumers can contact the 111-emergency service during a power cut at their home.

“We’ve brought this action in light of One NZ’s disregard for the Code and the safety of vulnerable consumers.

“One NZ has a long history of breaching consumer protection laws – so we need to send a strong signal that we won’t tolerate any disregard for its mandatory Code obligations.”

Mr Gilbertson says the Code, which came into effect in February 2021, was created to protect the growing number of consumers moving away from copper landline connections (which work in a power cut to the home) to fibre or other alternative landline technologies (which require a power supply in the home to work).

“The Code recognises that some of these consumers are vulnerable because they are more likely to need to call 111 in a power cut for health, safety or disability reasons. Providers must give these consumers a means of calling 111 in a power cut, at no cost to them, and make sure consumers are aware of this obligation.”

Mr Gilbertson says that, given widespread compliance across the rest of the industry, One NZ’s failure to inform and protect its customers is a serious concern – particularly since it has the second largest number of landline connections in New Zealand.

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“It’s critical that all telecommunications providers comply with the Code to ensure the safety of their customers whose lives may be at risk in a power cut. The onus is on them to ensure their customers know how they can protect themselves and where to go for further support.

“Just one breach could have devastating consequences – so it’s encouraging to see most other providers respecting the importance of the Code and doing the right thing by their customers,” Mr Gilbertson says.

As this matter is now before the Court, the Commission cannot comment further at this time.


The Commission was required following the most recent update of the Telecommunications Act to develop the 111 Contact Code to protect the interests of consumers and help smooth the transition from copper to fibre services.

The Code protects consumers who for health, safety or disability reasons rely on a landline connection for emergency calling which, following a switch from copper to fibre or another new landline technology, will not work in a power cut without an independent power supply.

If these consumers do not have any other means of contacting 111 in a power cut – such as a mobile phone – then their provider must supply a device that enables them to make emergency calls for at least eight continuous hours at no cost to the consumer.

Providers are required to ensure consumers are aware of the Code, including through annual reminders, and to implement a process for registering and supplying vulnerable consumers with an alternative means of calling 111 when required.

Most providers have supplied vulnerable consumers with a mobile handset or (outside mobile coverage areas) a battery back-up for their landline service to satisfy this obligation.

Breaches of the Code under the Telecommunications Act carry pecuniary penalties of up to $300,000 for each breach and $10,000 per day for continuing conduct.

One NZ (formerly Vodafone) has been prosecuted and convicted six times for breaches of the Fair Trading Act since 2010 – making it the worst offender under this Act of any entity in the economy over this period.

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