There’s a review under way into the Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSO), a regulation that requires Telecom to ensure every household in New Zealand has access to free local phone calls, 111 calls, and an affordable, basic internet/fax connection. To be more precise the TSO ensures:
• Continued availability of a connection that can provide voice calls, dial-up internet and dialup faxes
• A free local-calling option
• Monthly line rental charges that do not increase by more than the Consumer Price Index
(CPI),2 and that are no higher for rural areas than for urban areas
• Free 111 calls
• A listing in the White Pages telephone book.
The regulation came about after Telecom was privatised: to make sure nobody missed out on basic phone services in this new market environment. But that was back when less than half of New Zealanders had internet connections and none of us had smartphones. Now more than 80% of New Zealanders have internet (mostly broadband), there’s a proliferation of mobile phones, and networks are getting faster.
The review aims to determine whether the TSO is still relevant and whether it should be altered and, if so, how much. There’s a summary discussion document, embedded below, and a more detailed review discussion document.