A draft guidance document from the Commerce Commission explains how the telecommunications regulator views fibre unbundling.

Unbundled fibre means service providers can install their own electronics at each end of a fibre line. They would expect to pay a smaller monthly subscription to the wholesale fibre company for each unbundled line.

Because the cost of providing the necessary electronics is a small fraction of the overall cost of providing fibre broadband, the potential savings are small.

Fibre companies are required by law to offer unbundled services on the UFB network. Telecommunications commissioner Dr Stephen Gale says; "Unbundling is important as it is designed to promote competition and innovation in fibre broadband services”.

The commission’s role is to monitor and enforce the fibre companies’ obligations to give unbundled access to service providers.

They have all done so, but some service providers have complained loudly that the terms offered are unacceptable. Or, as the Commerce Commission puts it: “…there has been some concern from retailers about whether the unbundled terms and prices offered are the equivalent of what the LFCs effectively supply to themselves when they provide standard broadband services.”

The commission says its draft guidance is to help the industry understand how the regulator interprets fibre company obligations. The document is open for consultation until April 28 and the commission will accept cross submission until May 12. It says it will then issue a final guidance later in the year.