Govt looks to break UFB 'deadlock'

Amy Adams (Simon Wong)
Amy Adams (Simon Wong)

New legislation to make it easier for people living in apartments and on shared properties to get ultra-fast broadband (UFB) has been introduced to Parliament.

"New Zealanders are hungry for better connectivity and it's frustrating that they're experiencing unnecessary delays or problems caused by neighbour disputes or unanswered queries," says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

"Around 250,000, or 17 percent, of UFB orders will need permission for access to property shared between neighbours, such as shared driveways or in apartment buildings. This causes delays when there are problems with getting permission from neighbours."

Ms Adams says the Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Bill will introduce "simpler consenting rules" and "break some of these deadlocks".

The Bill will introduce two new tiers of "simplified approvals", depending on the impact installing fibre will have on the property. Only installations that fall outside these tiers will still require the consent of all affected property owners.

Tier one will allow installations to go ahead after only five days' notice, with operators given a statutory right to enter the property. Tier two, for slightly more complicated installations, will give property owners 15 days to object -- if they don't, then permission is assumed to have been granted.

Ms Adams says these two categories will account for nearly 90 percent of installations.

There will also be a disputes resolution scheme set up if there is conflict between property owners.

"In this Bill the Government has endeavoured to strike the right balance between simplifying consent requirements, while still respecting the rights of property owners," says Ms Adams.

The legislation will expire in 2025, after the completion of the UFB rollout. Ms Adams hopes to have it in law by next year.

Last year Ms Adams said in some cases it was costing double what it should to install UFB, and some internet users were waiting up to a year for permission from landowners.

Internet provider Spark said many customers were giving up because getting consent was too difficult.