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Retail ISPs push back on Chorus 'Boost' plans

Telecom New Zealand and CallPlus complain to the regulator that proposed changes to wholesale broadband services are an enforceable breach under the Telecommunications Act.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

The Commerce Commission is investigating after two retail internet service providers complained that changes proposed by network operator Chorus to wholesale broadband services amount to an enforceable breach under the Telecommunications Act.

The Commission has received a complaint from Telecom about changes to the regulated unbundled bitstream access (UBA) service as part of the company’s submission on new commercial broadband services Chorus has developed which will compete with UBA. CallPlus has also raised concerns.

“The Commission is very supportive of innovation within the industry and of commercial services that compete with regulated services, especially when it leads to improved services for consumers. However, regulated services must be properly maintained and not be eroded,” Telecommunications Commissioner, Dr Stephen Gale said.

Unbundled bitstream access is a service that allows retail telecommunications providers to supply broadband services over the copper network without installing their own equipment in the exchange.

Chorus advised the Commission of its proposal in May offering two new unregulated UBA services, dubbed Boost HD and Boost VDSL. These entailed the withdrawal the current regulated VDSL service and the introduction of new bandwidth management settings for the regulated UBA service.

The Commission must assess whether the proposed new unregulated services are materially different from the regulated UBA service and can be priced separately. This began in late May.

The assessment will now run in parallel to the new investigation.

However, Chorus has since amended its original proposal and this is likely to have an impact on the timeline for the assessment, the Commission said. Submissions received will be released today and the deadline for cross-submissions will be extended until 1 August.

Chorus is able to offer commercial UBA services at different prices to the regulated UBA service. However, it must provide the Commission with notice before doing so and the Commission must then assess whether the proposed commercial UBA services are different to the regulated UBA service.

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