The paper outlines how the Commission plans to gain a better understanding of the retail service quality being provided to consumers, prioritise what it should focus on and determine the appropriate tools to use, if intervention appears worthwhile.

“Retail telecommunications is a Commission priority, in particular in the areas of billing, switching, contract terms, and marketing. Parliament has now given us more tools to improve retail service quality and safeguard consumers,” Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said.

The new provisions require the Commission to monitor aspects of retail service quality including performance, speed and availability, customer service and billing and installation issues, as well as providing information for consumers to help them with their choices of technologies and providers.

The new provisions also allow the Commission to create retail service quality codes—if industry-led codes are inadequate—and require it to periodically review the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution scheme.

“We receive lots of consumer enquiries and complaints about telecommunications providers and have responded over the past few years through Fair Trading Act warnings and prosecutions. The new provisions will help us encourage telcos to compete more on retail service quality, not just on prices,” Dr Gale said.

A copy of the framework paper can be found on the Commission’s website.

The Commission will publish a paper in early 2019 outlining how it plans to engage with consumers and industry stakeholders to set up the collection of retail service quality data. That paper will also provide initial thinking on what metrics could be good indicators of retail service quality.


The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill

The legislation was passed by Parliament on 7 November 2018. Along with the new consumer provisions, it establishes a price-quality regime for Chorus by setting the maximum price it can earn from its ultra-fast broadband network and the quality of service it must deliver. It also requires Chorus and local fibre companies (Northpower Fibre, Ultrafast Fibre, and Enable Networks) to publicly disclosure information around their revenue, performance, and quality.

Other Commission consumer telecommunications work:

Beginner’s Guide to Broadband

Over the past year the Commission has released a series of quick guides and videos to demystify broadband for consumers. The series covers how to choose your broadband, how to improve broadband speed and performance, and how to resolve issues with your telecommunications provider. The videos and quick guides can be found here.

Measuring Broadband New Zealand

In May 2018 the Commission announced SamKnows as its independent testing partner for its enhanced broadband monitoring programme. The programme is designed to provide independent information across broadband technologies, plans and providers to help consumers choose the best broadband for their homes. More information on the programme, including how you can be a volunteer, is available here.