The government of New Zealand is to extend the country’s Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL), which collects payments from domestic telcos in order to help fund rural telecoms infrastructure projects. The TDL requires payments totalling NZD50 million (USD36.5 million), with the level of contribution based on an operator’s annual revenues. While the levy was originally planned to be lowered to NZD10 million a year from 2016/17, the new Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Bill extends the NZD50 million requirement to 2018/19.
Communications Minister Amy Adams commented: ‘Continuing the TDL at its current level until 2019 will ensure the telecommunications industry invests in rural and remote areas so the connectivity needs of all New Zealanders can be met, irrespective of where they happen to live.’
The change has not been without its opponents, however, with incumbent operator Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand) saying the TDL charge will have to be passed on to its customers; it says it will now highlight each subscriber’s individual contribution on their bill. Managing director Simon Moutter says the charge averages at around NZD1 per month per customer.