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Published Thursday 27 Jul 2017

The UFB roll-out is progressing ahead of schedule, and Kiwis are connecting at a rapid rate


The UFB roll-out is progressing ahead of schedule, and Kiwis are connecting at a rapid rate, with more than 1,132,000 households and businesses now having access to fibre.

Fibre running past a property boundary usually means you can upgrade to a fibre connection in a short space of time. But there can be delays in getting the last piece of cable from the roadside to your front door.

That’s because installing UFB is a construction job, rather than a plug-and-play solution into an existing utility already available at the property.

About 6% of residences are either in an apartment building, or down a shared driveway. In both cases, the consent of neighbours is required as the installation will cross shared property.

If your building or shared property already has a fibre connection, this can speed up your installation process significantly. If not, the process of obtaining consents from neighbours can create extensive delays; months or even years in some cases.

The Government has recognised the issue of delays, and the frustration created where consent can’t be obtained due to absent neighbours, or where consent has been withheld, some might argue unreasonably.

To combat this, the Property Access provisions of the Telecommunications Act 2001 have now been enacted and are in force. These provisions improve network operators’ ability to install fibre across shared property, where the nature of the installation meets the definition of being “low impact”.

Before they can utilise these new provisions, network operators are required to join the approved property access dispute resolution scheme. This scheme is designed to protect third party property owners by giving them somewhere to go if they believe that appropriate processes and quality standards have not been followed.

On 27 Jul 2017, the Minister of Telecommunications announced that the disputes service for UFB Property Access complaints will be provided by Utilities Disputes Ltd (UDL).

The changes to the Act are certainly intended to speed up the process of installing UFB where shared driveways and apartment buildings are concerned. Hopefully, the result will be less delay for these installations, and fewer opportunities for vexatious neighbours to stand in the way of the telecommunications industry providing great service to consumers.

By Geoff Thorn, CEO NZ Telecommunications Forum