Commerce Commission consults on approach to fibre regulation, urges cellcos to improve tariff transparency

21 Sep 2020

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has released a paper detailing its proposed high-level approach and process for determining the information disclosure and price-quality regulations that will be applied to fibre access services providers Chorus, Enable Networks, Northpower and UltraFast Fibre from 1 January 2022. The price-quality and information disclosure regulations will give effect to and build on the input methodologies for fibre services, such as how the Commission must calculate the cost of capital, which are due to be finalised by late 2020. ‘The purpose of this paper is to set out our early thinking on how we approach the major aspects the new regulations will cover. This includes the type of information providers should publicly disclose and how we would set the amount of revenue Chorus can recover and the quality standards it must meet,’ commented Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson. Interested parties can submit their comments and opinions by 14 October.

In other news, the Commerce Commission has urged New Zealand’s three mobile network operators – Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees – to provide more meaningful comparison information and guard against overspending by customers. A study of nearly 80,000 consumer mobile bills conducted by the regulator found 64% of consumers did not change plans during the twelve-month review period. The study claims a quarter of post-paid consumers could save an estimated average of NZD11.60 a month (USD7.84) by moving to a cheaper plan that would still cover their usage. It also observed that 7% of all residential consumers spent a relatively high amount on mobile services, given their usage, and that these consumers could potentially save an average of NZD48.65 a month. ‘Our work suggests that some consumers are significantly overspending on their mobile plans due to transparency and inertia problems in the market,’ stated Tristan Gilbertson. The Commission has also encouraged the wider industry to initiate a programme of work on a ‘consumer data right’ so consumers can choose to share their usage, spend and product information with competitors and comparison services to help inform their decisions.