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Who's getting whacked: ComCom releases draft list for $50m telco levy

The Commerce Commission today released a revised draft determination for the amount 22 telecommunications providers will pay towards the $50 million Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) for the 2013 financial year(see table below).

ComCom spokesman Gordon Irving told NBR that for most companies, their levy payment is slightly down on the original draft. 

For two companies the payment has increased, Mr Irving says. They are CallPlus (which now includes Flip) and Christchurch UFB contract holder Enable Networks, both joined a related firm or firms to them with the effect that their levy allocation increased.

Overall, there are no surprises.

The two big fights occured last year as the new levy came in last year as Sky TV argued (successfully) that broadband content providers should not be included, and Chorus lobbied (unsuccessful) that wholesalers should be excluded.

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The Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) replaced the old KiwiShare Levy. 

It is currently set at $50 million per year, but will drop to $10 million per year after 2016.

Funds from the TDL are initially earmarked primarily for the public-private Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), a six-year, $300 million project that kicked off mid-2011.

For Chorus and Vodafone, which won a joint bid for the RBI, the levy is circular; the pair are receiving money collected from the TDL to part-fund their work on the rural broadband push.

The RBI's aim is to bring fast broadband to around 252,000 rural customers through new fibre laid by Chorus, and new celltowers and fixed wireless broadband from Vodafone.

Unlike government funding for the urban Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout, which Chorus and local fibre companies have to pay back, the RBI money is a direct government grant to cover what were otherwise considered commercially non-viable rural customers.

Chorus and Vodafone operate the RBI, now partially constructed, as a commercial wholesale network, with retail ISPs granted access on equal terms — although 2degrees has argued that a provision for other phone companies to co-locate their own gear on Vodafone-built RBI celltowers is not economic. 

RAW DATA: Revised draft liability allocation determination for the Telecommunications Development Levy for 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (PDF)

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