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ComCom seeks feedback on planned levy hike to fund new telco framework

Monday 30th April 2018

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The Commerce Commission wants the industry's view on plans to raise a levy on telecommunications service providers to pay for introducing the new regulatory framework. 


The antitrust regulator estimates it will cost $12 million over three years to effectively introduce a new regulatory framework governing how fibre companies charge for access to their networks and wants feedback on its proposed funding plan. Legislation introducing the new regulatory framework also changes the Telecommunications Regulatory Levy, which recovers the cost of regulation, to allow greater flexibility in setting the charge over multiple years rather than one financial year. 


The commission said it faces "a significant increase in workload to develop and implement the regulatory regime" as envisaged by the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill, and it will need to take on about 15 full-time equivalents to "deliver regulation of the right quality". 


Submissions are open until May 11, and the regulator expects to discuss the plans at the stakeholder workshop this week, where it will also talk about its study of the nation's fibre services. 


"If passed, the legislation will set us a substantial task of regulating fibre networks, a task that will require an increase in funding and staffing," Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale said in a statement. "We will consider feedback before making our proposal to the Government to increase the industry levy which funds our work in the telco sector." 


Parliament's economic development, science and innovation select committee is due to report back to the House on the bill by the end of the week. 


In a submission, the Commerce Commission supported the intention of the bill but said the timeframe was "extremely challenging" and recommended a "more realistic timetable" to develop the input methodologies, price-quality regulation and information disclosure regime. 


The regulator today said if it spends less than the $12 million it estimates, it will have to focus on meeting the mandatory components of the regime rather than stakeholder engagement, which could "compromise the overall quality of the regulations".



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