New Zealand telcos and ISPs will be required to provide consistent service information to consumers following the development of an industry code of practice.
The Broadband Product Disclosure Code was developed by the Telecommunications Forum (TCF), an industry forum in which the majority of NZ telcos, Internet and network providers participate.
Under the new code (pdf), it will be mandatory for TCF members to publish an Offer Summary for the service sought by consumers.
This will include information such as the total cost of the broadband service and also associated contract term, data caps and any traffic management policies that could affect its speed and access.
Australian telcos and ISPs have been mandated to provide similar information in the form of a critical information summary.
However, unlike Australia where official watchdogs police broadband offering promises, the New Zealand industry code relies on self regulation, TCF chief executive, David Stone said.
"It's mainly name-and-shame and if a member does not adhere to our code of compliance, the organisation could be kicked out," Stone told iTNews.
Communications and IT minister Amy Adams, who had ordered the TCF to produce the new industry code, said consumers will need clear information to compare product offerings as New Zealand rolls out the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre-to-the-premises service nationwide.
The introduction of a code is an important step towards improving transparency for broadband products in New Zealand,” Adams said.
As a next step, an independent testing system to see how different broadband services perform in practice will be introduced to complement the code, she said.
For the chief executive of the Telecommunications Users Association of NZ, Paul Brislen, the independent testing of broadband performance is what his organisation sees as the biggest win with the new code.
Once the independent testing is in place, providers must set out information detailing issues that could affect broadband speed.
Home wiring and wi-fi quality, end-user equipment and devices as well as other users on the network are covered by this disclosure requirement.
Other information relating to the access network, such as the distance from exchanges and roadside cabinets for copper-delivered DSL must also be disclosed, as well as Internet performance issues outside the control of the provider, like latency, intermediate networks and remote destination equipment.
The code will come into effect on March 1 next year.