New Zealand government introduces FttP installation consent Bill

Proposed legislation would provide telcos with easier access to shared-access properties by designating implied consent under two categories of UFB FttP installation.

The New Zealand government has introduced a piece of proposed legislation to make it faster for those with shared property telecommunications infrastructure to gain access to the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), with the government now accepting submissions from interested parties.

Those living in multi-dwelling units or properties with shared driveways have been facing delays of connectivity to the UFB's fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network, Communications Minister Amy Adams said, because the consent of all owners is required in order for telcos to begin installing fibre-optic technology.

"Around 250,000, or 17 percent, of UFB orders will need permission for access to property shared between neighbours, such as shared driveways or in apartment buildings," Adams said.

"This causes delays when there are problems with getting permission from neighbours. By introducing simpler consenting rules, we'll help speed up the installation of UFB to properties where consent from a neighbour is required."

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2016 therefore aims to provide easier access to property in order to roll out telco infrastructure, as well as amending the regulations governing dispute resolution and use of the UFB network.

"The purpose of this subpart is to enable more people and businesses to obtain the benefits of fibre-to-the-premises and other technology, within a shorter time frame, by: Recognising that when more than one person's consent is required for an FttP service provider or a network operator to access property and there are difficulties in obtaining those consents, the process of installing infrastructure (such as fibre-optic media) is delayed, and opportunities to realise the benefits of that technology are missed; and providing for a tiered system of statutory rights of access that FttP service providers and network operators may use to access property and carry out installations in those situations and that imposes different requirements for different methods of installation in order to ensure that the requirements are appropriate to the methods and their impact on the property; and providing for a scheme for efficiently and effectively resolving disputes that may arise about rights and obligations under this subpart," s155A of the Bill states.

The so-called "tiered consent regime" consists of two categories of simple approvals designated by the impact the fibre installation is likely to have on a property.

Category 1 installations are those involving existing equipment including conduit or ducts; aerial installations; and installations that only disturb soft surfaces that can easily be restored.

Category 2 installations are micro trenching within a designated width; below-surface installations where the only physical impacts are the access, entry, and exit points of a designated size, such as with directional drilling; and open trenching that is no bigger than a prescribed size.

However, before any category 1 methods of installation may be recommended, the communications minister must be satisfied that the installation won't have "lasting, substantial, physical impact on the property". In regards to recommending methods to the second category, the minister must be satisfied that the disruption caused to property users during the installation is temporary, and that any lasting, substantial, and physical impact "is justifiable in support of the mass-market rollout of a telecommunications network".

FttP service providers must still give at least five business days' notice prior to carrying out a category 1 installation, and 15 business days' notice for a category 2 installation. If the property is administered by a corporate body, category 2 conditions must be met regardless of whether it is a category 1 installation.

Any installations that fall outside of these categories will still require the consent of all affected owners.

The Bill also provides a dispute-resolution scheme if consent or impact are questioned for an installation that occurs under it.

Fixed-line telecommunications provider Chorus in February provided an update on the rollout of the UFB, saying it had completed seven of its 24 rollout areas.

"We are almost halfway through the UFB rollout, and continue to activate our planned network areas on schedule," the telco said in its financial results report for the first half of FY16.

"Build work had been finished for about 400,000 premises across our UFB areas at 31 December, meaning approximately 539,000 consumers could connect to our ultra-fast broadband."

The UFB was originally planned to provide minimum speeds of 100Mbps up/50Mbps down to 75 percent of the population, but has since been increased to reach 80 percent of the population, with the remaining 20 percent set to be connected to wireless mobile broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), which will provide download speeds of 50Mbps by 2020.

By the end of calendar 2019, 97.8 percent of the NZ population will be covered by either the UFB or the RBI.

The New Zealand government is accepting submissions on its UFB property access Bill until August 18.