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Kiwishare failing Rural New Zealand

26 June 2001 PR 91/01

Kiwishare failing Rural New Zealand

"It is in the nations' interest for the Government to get on with the provision of a universal telephone service," Federated Farmers of New Zealand Vice President Tom Lambie told the Telecommunications Select Committee today.

"Kiwishare has failed rural New Zealand" Mr Lambie said. "The infrastructure in rural New Zealand is inadequate to sustain voice connections in areas close to urban centres let alone isolated areas."

"Ironically it has taken a furore over the poor provision of telecommunications services in Auckland's playground - Piha, for urban New Zealand to appreciate the difficulties facing rural telephone users."

"In Inangahua new connections are made conditional on agreement not to connect to the internet. Diversification and employment opportunities for rural communities are compromised because employers can not provide telephone connections."

"The massive uptake of the internet has overloaded existing infrastructure, compromising other users ability to get a basic voice connection. Yet, the current regime does not require all users to contribute to the universal obligations."

Mr Lambie told the Select Committee that "the Federation supports a telecommunications framework that encourages commercially negotiated agreements, but believes there is a need for light handed regulation. The Federation also supports the appointment of a Telecommunications Commissioner operating within the Commerce Commission."

"The Federation recommends that basic voice services are available are essential for all residential customers for health, safety and education purposes," said Mr Lambie. And further investigation of reliable high-speed internet access for all residential customers is required."

"TSOs must be reviewed regularly with changes in technology and net losses should be funded by industry. The provision of Telecom Service Obligations (TSOs) must be contestable to allow other providers to introduce new technology. The Federation believes Government should formally consult end users when changing TSO contracts and formally review the legislation in three years and assess ongoing need."

"Opportunities offered by exciting new diversification options will open up when telecommunications infrastructure problems are resolved" Mr Lambie concluded."

ENDS


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