Moving forward with withdrawing copper in 2021

The Copper Withdrawal Code (CWC) has been a work in progress with you, the Commerce Commission and Chorus over the last couple of years. It’s great to now have the final Code published (as of 10 December 2020) for us to collectively put into action, while ensuring we collaborate to deliver a great consumer experience.

We are now working on plans to start small-scale copper withdrawal trials from March 2021, in line with the Code. We will finalise and communicate these timelines with you early next year while we continue to work through the finer details.

More information on the code can be found here on the Commerce Commission's website.

What’s happening

As the final CWC has now been published we’re working through details of the final withdrawal process. We will continue to engage with you on this early in the New Year.

Initially we’re planning a targeted trial with 30 street cabinets and about 250 customers in high fibre uptake areas. This is not going to be a mass withdrawal. Instead, we intend to adopt a cabinet-by-cabinet approach at a local level, working with you and your customers to move them to newer technologies, such as fibre.

One key thing we want to share early in the New Year is our proposed communications material and collateral. The CWC requires us to give detailed information to the consumer and we’re aiming to ensure that our communications are clear, uncomplicated and complementary to the conversations that you will be having with your customers.

1. Business customers

To be clear, in the trial we will specifically excluding customers on copper HSNS business connections. However, business customers who use other copper services may be included, for example small businesses that use a residential copper service.


2. High-level copper withdrawal messaging

Outside of our notices to consumers required under the CWC, we will start to communicate about copper withdrawal. Our overarching messages include:

  • For over a century, the copper network has played an important role in telecommunications in this country - supporting landline phone calls and more recently, allowing us to connect to the Internet. But with a newly built, and future-proofed fibre broadband network soon to be available to 87 percent of the country, New Zealand is now less dependent on the copper network for its broadband and phone needs.
  • That’s why starting in 2021, we plan to gradually retire parts of the copper network in areas where fibre is available. This is not going to be a mass shutdown. Instead, we intend to adopt a cabinet-by-cabinet approach at a local level, working with broadband retailers and consumers to transition to more newer technologies, such as fibre.
  • Our initial plans include only a few hundred customers and they will hear directly from Chorus if they are part of this change. For those that don’t hear from Chorus, there’s no need to worry, their services will remain unchanged.
  • We will continue to maintain and invest in the copper network where it’s needed. In areas where fibre isn’t yet built, or isn’t scheduled for build, our copper network will continue to offer consistent, reliable phone and broadband services.


3. Key learnings from RSP workshops held so far:

  • There’s a clear desire to work together on the upcoming trials. Including using feedback from the PSTN migrations and keeping open channels of communication throughout the trial. Learnings gathered along the way will help us optimise the process for the end customer.
  • We will need to carefully manage consumers with critical care issues, or those who are medically dependant – there may be a need to share more information so we can better support their transition.
  • Call centres will need to be primed with responses about the copper withdrawal trial, albeit this is on a small scale, to manage customer contacts.
  • There will be exceptions and unique cases where bespoke case management be required by us both. One of the aims of the trial is better understand the scale of these so we can adapt processes to better manage their transition.


Next steps and contact

January 2021

Continued workshops with Chorus and RSPs, collaborating on process

February 2021

Chorus notification collateral shared with RSPs

March 2021

Earliest start for customer trials and withdrawal notifications sent

September 2021

Earliest date for the trial withdrawal of copper and the power down of street cabinets – this is six months after the first notice issued under the CWC.


For any queries, please contact your Account Manager.