Legislation for faster UFB installs introduced

Swing vote Peter Dunne like to support the red-tape cutting. Latest stats reveal queues for UFB installs getting longer.

Communications Minister Amy Adams says legislation to help clear the backlog around UFB installs will be introduced to Parliament this afternoon.

At the same time, her office has released new figures that show UFB install queues getting longer (see below).

 The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Bill has two key provisions:

  • For apartments, a UFB installer will get "deemed consent" and be able to proceed if they have not heard from the body corporate within 15 days
     
  • For homes down right-of-ways, no consent will be required (though five days' notice must be given)  if a fibre cable installation is non-invasive (e.g. it's shallow trenched under grass). If an installation is categoriesed as invasive (e.g. because it involves cutting concrete), work will proceed if no neighbours on the shared right-of-way object.

If an objection is received under either scenario, then the usual consent process will kick in.

Ms Adams says the new measures could be in place by early next year.

United Future leader Peter Dunne will be a crucial swing vote as the legislation makes its way through Parliament.

Mr Dunne has opposed substantial RMA reform, but earlier told NBR he broadly supports what Ms Adams is trying to achieve with this bill.

The reforms seem sensible — though would have been more sensible if introduced back in 2011 as the $1.35 billion project began.

Concerns have immediately been raised in the ISP community over whether the legislation could affect the free status of UFB installs and non-standard installs.

Ms Adams says the free installation issues is separate from this legislation. The continuation of free non-standard installations will depend on negotiations between Crown Fibre Holdings and Chorus.

Chorus said earlier it was confident free non-standard installations will continue after the end of this year, when they are due to expire.

Install queues getting longer
Figures released today by Ms Adams show interest in the UFB continues to grow quickly.

The good news: In April, ISPs fielded 24,000 orders for UFB connections as Kiwis finally wake up to the benefits of fibe.

The bad news: an overloaded Chorus and other UFB companies could only connect 16,000 customers that month.

As of April 2016, half of all requests to consent properties down rights of way had been open for thirty working days or more, the minister says.

Of these requests, 704 orders had been open for between thirty and fifty working days and 778 orders had been open for fifty working days or longer.

As of March 31, 921,000 households, businesses, schools and hospitals are now able to connect to UFB. Around 200,000 (21%) had chosen to connect.

Read a Q&A on the legislation and the proposed new installation process here.