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Telecomm Inquiry Needs To Revisit Drawing Board

16 August 2000 PR92/2000

TELECOMM INQUIRY NEEDS TO REVISIT DRAWING BOARD

Federated Farmers has told the Telecommunications Inquiry that its proposed industry regulation scheme will do nothing to improve rural telecommunications.

"The telecommunications policy developed in 1990 failed rural New Zealanders because it failed to recognise the diversification and growth in rural areas. We are very concerned that the policy process is about to be set up to fail again," said Federated Farmers telecommunications spokesman Tom Lambie.

"The federation wants the inquiry team to analyse both the extent of the telecommunication failure in rural areas, and the likelihood of new technology being rolled out to satisfy the serious rural social and business needs."

"Without proper analysis, the inquiry seems to be gambling on technological progress to provide answers for rural peoples' desperate need. This is unsatisfactory as there is no guarantee that suitable technology will be installed in rural New Zealand."

Federated Farmers wants industry solutions that will give high bandwidth internet access without congesting voice services, and believes that the cost of providing a universal service should be spread across all telecommunication companies.

"Telecom New Zealand's present KiwiShare obligation is failing to provide. Rural families and businesses are waiting for basic connection in many cases, let alone second lines to allow for business to business e-commerce. This is irrespective of the level of remoteness from major exchanges."

"The final decision maker, the Government, must answer how it expects world-class exporting industries to exist on Third World telecommunications," Mr Lambie concluded.

ENDS For further information: Tom Lambie 026-113-161 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269


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