New Zealand’s Commerce Commission restarted a study of domestic backhaul services with an eye to determining if consumers would benefit from new regulations.

The study, originally started in August 2016 but put on hold in February 2017 while the government reviewed the Telecommunications Act, aims to understand how domestic backhaul services have evolved, how demand for different backhaul services may develop in future and consider whether any regulatory changes would better promote the long-term interests of consumers.

“We see backhaul as critical to ensuring New Zealanders can benefit from effective access to comprehensive broadband services, especially with the rollout of ultrafast fibre broadband,” said telecommunications commissioner Stephen Gale.

The commission describes backhaul as the link which carries mobile, internet and voice traffic back from local exchanges and mobile sites to the core network. With the new regulatory framework now before a parliamentary committee, the commission said it is an appropriate time to restart the study.

“The submissions we have already received have helped us to better understand the market. We intend to gather further information on a range of matters raised in submissions. This information will help us decide where to focus the remainder of the study,” Gale said.

He said an updated timeframe for the study will be published once the commission gathers further information from a number of parties.

The country has three mobile operators: Vodafone New Zealand with a 39 per cent market share, Spark New Zealand (38 per cent) and 2degrees (23 per cent).

Some countries, such as Australia, regulate backhaul in rural areas where there is not enough competition.