Telco Commissioner Stephen Gale reappointed for another 3 years as govt pushes reform package

Stephen Gale was first appointed the commissioner in 2012.

Communications Minister Simon Bridges has reappointed incumbent Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale to the role for another three years, saying he provides "stability and continuity" at a time where the sector is undergoing significant change.

Gale was first appointed the commissioner in 2012, having worked as an associate commissioner at the Commerce Commission before that. During his first term in the role, the regulator made a final decision on copper pricing which allowed Chorus to charge customers more to access its ageing telecommunications network, and last year the Commission moved away from a draft view that it should deregulate Spark New Zealand's wholesale voice services which it sells to retail service providers.

Earlier this month, the government announced the final details of its reform package for the Telecommunications Act, aiming to deregulate the copper network where it competes with fibre from 2020, by which time it is expected to cover three-quarters of the population.

Under the new system, UFB providers will have to disclose information about their revenues and costs publicly, Telecommunications network operator Chorus will also be subject to a revenue cap from 2020 and local fibre companies will face competition from copper and cable, but can be regulated if problems arise. A bill is expected to be introduced to parliament in the second half of the year.

"The reappointment of Dr Gale recognises his valuable knowledge and expertise in competition and pricing issues, and the significant contribution he has made to the work of the Commission over a number of years," Bridges said. "The telecommunications sector is going through a significant transition with the review of the Telecommunications Act. The role of the Commissioner continues to be of vital importance as unique issues may emerge that require specialist understanding of the sector."