Watchdog's concern at Chorus copper plan

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 10:43, July 7 2014

Chorus has run into opposition from the countries' top telcos in its bid to isolate some of its copper network revenues from the possible future effects of regulation.

The Commerce Commission said Chorus wanted to withdraw its regulated, wholesale super-fast VDSL copper broadband service at the same time as introducing an improved unregulated VDSL service. The latter service would guarantee internet users the ability to view a HD video stream uninterrupted.

Although the unregulated service is being offered at the same price as Chorus' existing regulated service for now – $44.98 a month with a phone line included – Chorus has not promised to cut that price once the regulated price of a copper broadband connection and phone line falls to $34.44 in December.

Chorus is separately challenging the price cut both through another Commerce Commission review and the Court of Appeal.

The competition watchdog said that at a meeting attended by Telecom, Vodafone and CallPlus on June 20, concerns were expressed about the proposed withdrawal of the regulated VDSL service and about a "lack of clarity" from Chorus about its unregulated copper broadband products.

The commission said last month that Chorus would find out by September whether it would be able to charge extra for its new range of improved copper broadband products, or whether the commission would extend regulated pricing to them also.

If Chorus carries the day, the new wholesale services could help the company close a "$1 billion funding gap" that the company has warned would open up if the Commission confirms its proposed cuts to copper network access pricing.

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 - © Fairfax NZ News

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