New Commerce Commission rules mean Chorus must keep its copper network congestion free.
It says links between Chorus dslams and the first upstream data switch must not go higher than 95 per cent of capacity for more than five minutes.
Chorus must now report when parts of its network approach full capacity. It must also tell ISPs about its plans to improve capacity as lines approach 80 per cent capacity.
Aim is congestion free certainty
The aim is to give retail ISPs certainty buying unbundled bitstream access (UBA) from Chorus.
There is an exception for around 19,000 lines in remote areas. These are not covered until it is clear what happens to them in the next phase of the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative.
The ruling underlines the continued importance of UBA. This is despite the government supported UFB fibre network. In a few years UFB will reach more than 80 per cent of the population.
UBA services on the copper network are the main way people not yet connected to fibre buy broadband. For people outside UFB areas, it will remain an important option for years to come.
Once the fibre network is complete there is an option to deregulate the copper network where the two overlap.
Telecommunications commissioner Dr Stephen Gale says: “We are confident that the new standard will not lead to inefficient investment, even if copper is deregulated in UFB areas”.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Commission decided not to change the rules for VDSL connections. It says this is already covered by existing rules. What’s more, there’s a danger forcing Chorus’s hand on VDSL could limit the uptake of newer alternatives.
This week’s ruling dates back almost three years to complaints from Telecom NZ — now Spark. Spark argued changes proposed by Chorus would breach UBA standards. Chorus dropped the proposal, but the Commerce Commission launched a review of UBA standards anyway.