NZ telcos take arms against broadband network laws

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NZ telcos take arms against broadband network laws

Telcos unite in letter to Parliament.

New Zealand's major telcos have spoken out against new 'Ultra-fast Broadband' (UFB) legislation that could grant a ten-year regulatory holiday to participants of the nationwide fibre-optic project.

In a letter to all members of the New Zealand Parliament, eleven telcos including Vodafone, TelstraClear, Kordia/Orcon, Call Plus and new mobile entrant 2 Degrees said the law, if passed unmodified, would reduce competition and investment in the country.

Another signatory to the letter, Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand CEO Paul Brislen, noted that regulatory holidays were banned in the European Union and by the World Trade Organisation.

According to Brislen, the proposed law could also result in twenty percent rate increases for urban dwellers, and allow incumbent Telecom NZ to create a new wholesale monopoly even after being structurally separated.

Brislen denied that the letter was an attempt by competitors to “gang up on Telecom”, saying it marked the concern of the telco industry as a whole with the new law.

In February, Communications Minister Steven Joyce National sought to make wide-ranging changes to New Zealand's Telecommunications Act in preparation for the UFB project, expected to be completed by 2019.

The bill is currently being debated by Parliament, and is expected to pass with the support of minority right-wing party ACT.

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