Four local fibre companies are currently involved in laying fibre cable to premises throughout the country; this includes work being undertaken as part of the government’s ultrafast broadband initiative.
These providers are Chorus, Northpower Fibre, Enable Networks and Ultrafast Fibre. In laying the fibre cable, these companies may need to dig up roads and driveways, and even gardens or paved areas, and will also need to gain access to buildings.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment developed a code that sets out the process these local fibre companies must follow, and provides them with a statutory right of access. This is known as the Code for Access to Multi-Unit Complexes, or MUC Code. In accordance with this code, these companies have agreed to comply with the Multi-unit Complexes Dispute Resolution Code, and to be bound by the decisions made by TDR which has been contracted to provide the Multi-Unit Complexes Dispute Resolution Scheme.
The dispute resolution service is available free to owners and occupiers in multi-unit complexes, such as apartment buildings, townhouses, or commercial premises, who have complaints about companies laying fibre cable to the premises. The dispute resolution service is also available to the companies that are laying the fibre cable. The service is funded by the Scheme Members/Local Fibre Companies.
These local fibre companies have agreed to comply with the Multi-unit Complexes Dispute Resolution Code, and to be bound by the decisions made by TDR.
Types of disputes covered
You are the owner or occupier of a property within a multi-unit complex, such as an apartment, townhouse, or commercial premises. A local fibre company has requested access to your property in order to install fibre cable to the complex. This is likely to have been in the form of a ‘Preliminary Notice’ – seeking access to the premises to survey for the installation of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). If you did not respond, you may have received a ‘Second Notice’. You may have opted out of fibre cable deployment in writing or by denying access to the fibre company.
Your reasons for opting out may relate to failure to agree times/conditions for access, disagreement about the location of the work, or you may intend to demolish or carry out substantial construction within a few years’ time. Reasons for opting out can be found in the MUC Code Section 6.
Some scenarios which might lead to a complaint being laid with the MUC dispute resolution service include:
- The fibre company considers that you have opted out on unreasonable grounds - they may bring a complaint to TDR under the Multi-unit Complexes Dispute Resolution Code.
- You may have agreed to allow the fibre company access in general, but have then been unable to reach agreement on the specifics. This may relate to timing of access or perhaps the costs you expect to incur, associated with the work, and for which you wish to be reimbursed.
- You may have allowed access to the fibre company but are unhappy with their conduct, or wish to seek compensation for damages caused.
Types of complaints that can be considered under the MUC Dispute Resolution Scheme:
- the complaint is about a specific event, events or alleged breach(es) of the MUC Code;
- the complaint is made within 3 months of the MUC owner/occupier’s or Local Fibre Company’s initial discovery of the matter being complained about;
- the MUC owner/occupier is claiming $15,000 or less in damages or compensation.
Types of complaints that can’t be considered under the MUC Dispute Resolution Scheme:
- if it is considered personal, harassing, frivolous, vexatious, petty or trivial;
- if it is a request for information;
- if it relates to privacy issues, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Privacy Commissioner;
- if it is a grievance subject to legal action and/or being pursued in an alternative forum;
- if the MUC owner/occupier is claiming more than NZ$15,000.00;
- if the Consumer has previously made a similar complaint about the same local fibre company (unless TDR accepts that the new complaint contains relevant new information).
Full details of the types of disputes covered, and exclusions, can be found in the Multi-unit Complexes Dispute Resolution Code Sections 7 and 8.
If TDR is unable to help with your issue, these other organisations – listed under 'Resources'- may be of assistance.