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John Belgrave - Telecommunications Conference

Media Release Re John Belgrave's Speech To Telecommunications Conference

Media Release

Commerce Commission outlines challenges in new telecommunications regulatory regime

Speaking to a Telecommunications Industry Reform conference in Wellington today, the Chair of the Commerce Commission, John Belgrave highlighted the potential challenges the Commission and the Telecommunications Commissioner will face once functions under the Telecommunications Bill are enacted. The Bill is presently before the Commerce Select committee. Once enacted, the functions of the regime may include:

* To promote the negotiation of agreements between access providers and access seekers.

* Recommending to the Minister the designation or specification of services where considered necessary.

* Making determinations on the access obligations of specified services.

* Where disputes arise, facilitating resolution by conducting both initial and in-depth pricing reviews of designated services.

* Approving and proposing codes of conduct that are binding on the industry.

* Monitoring Telecom's performance against the Telecommunications Service Obligation, or TSO, and determining how TSO costs will be apportioned to other industry players.

Mr Belgrave encouraged industry players to reach commercially negotiated agreements wherever possible. "The mandate for the regulator is seen clearly by the Government as intervention where it will add value, but not at the expense of delaying or proscribing decisions which are clearly those of the players in this fast changing and dynamic industry" Mr Belgrave said.

Mr Belgrave stated that a key challenge will be to develop an overall regulatory framework with appropriate industry input that will encourage the industry to reach solutions and to seek determinations where they prove to be the only way to resolve issues.

"The introduction or extension of both fixed and wireless networks, both recently and in the near future indicates a degree of faith in the way the telecommunications industry is progressing by market participants and of the opportunities that exist". Mr Belgrave also suggested that this increased capacity will continue to stimulate market competition and the range of services offered.

The Commission is likely to publish guidelines to assist the industry and will undertake consultation prior to doing so. The Commission has commenced prepatory work which is designed both to support the yet to be appointed Telecommunications Commissioner and also to minimise delays in getting the regulatory regime underway once the Telecommunications Bill currently before Select Committee is enacted.

"The Commission is keen to encourage entry, innovation, efficiency and sustainable competition which is based on sound economic principles" Mr Belgrave said.


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