The Commerce Commission published the final version of the Copper Withdrawal Code. There is little change from the draft version published in May.

The document sets out the steps Chorus must take before it can begin disconnecting copper lines.

While the code comes into effect on March 1 next year, the earliest Chorus can disconnect a line will be September 1.

Before it can disconnect customers, Chorus must give them at least three advanced notices. The first notice has to be at least six months before the proposed cut-off date. A further notice is needed at three months and then a final notice 20 working days before the cut-off date.

Chorus has to provide notice to the customer and to any retail service providers who are dealing with the proposed cut-off location.

There are basic conditions that must be met before Chorus can plan any cut-off. Top of the list is the 111 Emergency Services Code. This is a set of rules to make sure vulnerable customers are able to contact emergency services if there’s a power outage.

The other key requirement is that the target household has to be connected to the fibre network at no cost. This applies in both the Chorus fibre area and other fibre areas.

If the fibre company servicing the target building can’t connect it before the proposed copper cut-off date then Chorus has to issue a continuation notice. This must be no later than 20 days before the end of the original notice period. This also applies if Chorus changes its decision to cut-off a copper line.

When Chorus halts a planned cut-off, it can restart the process, but with a fresh six month notice period.

Geoff Thorn, CEO of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum, says the code brings certainty to both industry and end-users.