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Commission to look at wireless broadband as well

Wednesday 18th May 2011 1 Comment

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The Commerce Commission today widened its terms of reference for a study of what drives demand for high speed broadband services in New Zealand.

"The study has been extended to cover additional areas, including high speed broadband services delivered over wireless networks and the identification of appropriate steps to monitor the market as it develops," said Telecommunications Commissioner Ross Patterson.

He also extended the time for the study.

The review is under a section of the Telecommunications Act which allows the commission to take a strategic view of any matter related to the telecommunications industry.

"Our aim is to promote competition in telecommunications markets for the long term benefit of end-users of telecommunications services in New Zealand," said Patterson. "This study will identify any factors which may inhibit the uptake of high speed broadband services".

The commission intends to hold a public conference early next year, before producing a final report in April 2012.

The Government has said it will invest of up to $1.5 billion into an ultra-fast broadband project alongside private sector investors to deliver "uplink" speeds of up to 50Mbps and downlink speeds of at least 100 Mbps to 75% of the New Zealand population over the next 10 years.

(Megabits or millions of bits per second is a measure of bandwidth - the average connecton speed in NZ is reported to be 2.9Mbps, with 7.7% of connections faster than 5Mbps).

According to a rural lobbyist, Federated Farmers, Sony Pictures has estimated speeds of 50-55Mbps will be required for 3D images with full high definition.

The commission plans to analyse factors that may affect the uptake of high speed fibre broadband services in New Zealand - including home wiring, network neutrality, peering, IP interconnection, data caps and content - and to identify areas such as health and education) where high speed services could enable significant efficiencies.

It will publish discussion papers at the end of October as basis for a consultation with interested parties, including members of the telecommunications sector, other relevant industries and consumer groups over the summer.

A conference to discuss the issues raised will be held next February and a final report delivered in April 2012.

Some companies and consumer groups have opposed a "regulatory holiday" proposed as part of the ultrafast broadband project, and instead suggested the kind of special access undertaking (SAU) approach introduced to the Australian telecommunications sector in 2002.

The group, fronted by the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, said its main worry was a proposal that successful fibre company bidders in the UFB project would receive a 10 year holiday from regulation, with the removal from the commission of any oversight of prices and services until 2020.



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Comments from our readers

On 18 May 2011 at 11:54 am bc said:
Easy answer: cost. Secondly: bandwidth. We need unlimited (or nearly) data, and just pay for speed. In many developed nations you can purchase video content, but it isn't feasible here once you add on the cost of data. It's still cheaper to go and buy a dvd.
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