Code will help with broadband choices

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013

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A new voluntary code of practice should make it far easier for consumers to distinguish between different fixed-line broadband offerings, Communications Minister Amy Adams says.

The Telecommunications Forum (TCF), an industry body, said the 13-page rule book would come into effect in March.

Signatories have agreed common rules that set out how they should describe - and what information they should provide about - the cost of their services, speeds, contract terms, data caps and any traffic-management policies they have which could affect consumers' experiences. Consumers should be able to "see at a glance" the key features of different broadband plans, the TCF said.

The code was developed at the behest of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Membership of the TCF is voluntary but the code will be mandatory for its members. All major internet providers, including Telecom, Vodafone, CallPlus, Orcon and Snap Internet, and some smaller providers belong.

The need for a code was "something that I have been really het up about for a while", Adams said. "All the talk about speeds and data caps and contention rates makes it very difficult for the average user to really understand and compare the various offerings.

"It was critical to me that we made sure ‘everyday New Zealand consumers' can know what they are getting and can properly compare offerings.

"What I said to the industry was this was something I wanted to see happen and my preference was they came up with something that worked well, but if they didn't, I would."

TCF chief executive David Stone said the industry body was also developing tests for broadband services so consumers could "understand the likely performance of different services they might be comparing".

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