Telecommunications companies will no longer need to apply to local authorities for resource consent when installing everyday infrastructure.

This applies to frequently deployed infrastructure such as small cell hardware, street cabinets, cabling and antenna on lighting poles so long as the equipment meets national standards.

The rule change is thanks to the National Environmental Standard for Telecommunications Facilities legislation that communications minister Amy Adams and environment minister Nick Smith announced yesterday. It comes in to force from January 1.

A statement from the communications minister’s office says the aim is to make it quicker and easier for New Zealanders to connect to newer and better communications technologies. This applies to the nationwide fibre roll-out, Rural Broadband Initiative technologies and the hardware needed for 4G mobile.

Red tape reforms late in the day

One might wonder why it has taken until the government supported UFB project is three-quarters of the way to completion before making these changes. Life would have been easier for everyone if the government changed the rules before the fibre roll-out began.

Geoff Thorn, CEO of the TCF, says this is a positive move: “As an industry, we support the government’s decision to amend the NES, so it keeps pace with the demands of today’s fast-moving telecommunications technology. In particular we’re pleased the government has recognised the importance of broadband and mobile communications in both community life and today’s economy.”

At present obtaining resource consents is complex. Thorn says there are 67 different local authorities to deal with. He says the rule changes will increase certainty and cut time and cost.