NZ govt to look at Chorus' finances

Summary:The New Zealand government has ordered an independent review of Chorus' financial position and its ability to continue rolling out Ultra-Fast Broadband.

New Zealand Communications Minister Amy Adams has ordered a review of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) after a Commerce Commission ruling that Chorus must cut the monthly access charge for its copper network from NZ$44.98 to NZ$34.44 per line.

Chorus says the decision would cut its revenue by $NZ142 million ($AU125.70 million) a year, hamper its ability to borrow money and, therefore, it wouldn't be able to complete the UFB rollout — one of the government's flagship policies.

It has prompted speculation that the government would intervene in some way, such as legislating over the top of the Commerce Commission or giving Chorus the money it needs for the rollout, but Adams said she first wants more information about Chorus.

The communications minister said Chorus' financial position has been under assessment in recent weeks by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment and external consultants, but it's important now to get an independent assessment at arm's length from the government.

The review will assess the impact of the Commerce Commission's decisions on Chorus' ability to deliver on its contractual commitments under the UFB and rural broadband initiatives.

It will also assess the scope for Chorus to manage the impact within the constraints of the reduced revenue, and, if required, a range of alternative options.

Adams said the government will consider its next steps once it has the report.

Labour and the Greens both say the government should accept the Commerce Commission's price.

Topics: New Zealand, Broadband

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