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Vision key to CLEAR proposal to telecomms Inquiry

Tuesday, 23 May 2000

Telecommunications vision key to CLEAR proposal to Inquiry

New Zealanders should expect high-bandwidth services, delivering music and television to the home and a new generation of sophisticated applications to businesses, within five years.

That is what telecommunications in the year 2005 could offer, according to CLEAR Communications' submission to the Ministerial Inquiry into Telecommunications.

The detailed submission, released today, shares a vision of an open and competitive telecommunications market in which the Internet is ubiquitous and increasing numbers of New Zealanders access business and leisure services through technologies that deliver data at many times existing speeds. The competitive market of 2005 would also see consumers access information through a wide variety of devices which could readily swap between networks. Businesses would rely on high-bandwidth networks to outsource complex and expensive applications, such as database management.

CLEAR's submission proposes an industry-specific regulatory framework which will accelerate the emerging generation of telecommunications services by providing genuine choice for customers and certainty for new entrants.

"Our proposals are aimed at getting the basics right so that all suppliers can get on with the job of bringing New Zealanders the benefits of new telecommunications technologies," says Chief Executive Tim Cullinane. "The evidence is that we are lagging behind our main trading partners in terms of both price and innovation. It's not too late for the country to catch up."

Mr Cullinane says CLEAR's proposal focuses on allowing new entrants access to all customers, and establishing a regulator with industry-specific rules and a mandate to enforce them.

Specifically, CLEAR's submission proposes:

* Interconnection with the country's national local network on terms no less favourable than offered by the incumbent to itself; * Unbundled access to the network to promote innovation and the deployment of advanced, high-bandwidth data services; * Genuine number portability; * An industry-specific regulator; * Full disclosure of the incumbent's costs to facilitate cost-based supply; * Separation of the business functions of the wholesale and retail operations of the incumbent; * A new Universal Service Obligation, based on the needs of tomorrow rather than those of 1989, to replace the Kiwi Share. All operators would contribute to it on a fair and proportional basis.

Mr Cullinane says the proposed regulatory framework relied on competition first and regulation only where necessary. It would be a "stripped down" version of overseas models designed to deliver workable solutions quickly and efficiently.

"New Zealand is in the unique position of designing a framework from the ground up because, to date, there has been absolutely no industry-specific regulations. That means we can learn from overseas experience and apply the best aspects of their models to the New Zealand industry. That is what will deliver real benefits to New Zealand consumers, and what we are proposing to the Inquiry team."

Ends

A summary of the CLEAR submission is available by fax or email from Ross Inglis, Public Affairs Manager. The full text is now available online at www.teleinquiry.govt.nz.

ENDS

For further information contact Ross Inglis Public Affairs Manager CLEAR Communications Ph: (09) 912 4400 Office Ph: (021) 636 228 Mobile


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