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Don't Get Hung Up On Lines - Says TUANZ

3 August 2001

For Immediate Release

Don't Get Hung Up On Lines, Say Telecommunications Users

It's time for Auckland local authorities to address ways to fast track TelstraSaturn's approvals for overhead lines, according to the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ.)

TUANZ was reacting to reports today that regulatory and legal hurdles associated with the proposed overhead lines are slowing down TelstraSaturn's extension of its telephone and cable TV network to Auckland.

"Phone subscribers in Wellington and Christchurch are way ahead of Auckland in getting the benefit of competition in the market," TUANZ Chief Executive Ernie Newman said. "They have a wider range of telephone and TV services, and much cheaper phones. Telecom has dropped its prices to Wellington and Christchurch homes by around 25% in response to competition, and there are some very attractive phone and TV service packages available from TelstraSaturn that Aucklanders won't have in the short term.

"Obviously a similar drop in price is ready and waiting for Aucklanders the moment TelstraSaturn arrives in their streets. But with the process bogged down by resource management considerations, Auckland households will keep paying far too much for phones and miss out on the new generation services. The regional economy suffers too, by losing out on extra the spending power that would otherwise be free to flow into local businesses.

"While there must always be a balance between environmental and development considerations, it is just not reasonable to require a new telephone company to put all its wires underground from the first day. TelstraSaturn claims that it only puts lines above the street where power lines or other telephone lines already exist, and co-operates with local authorities and other parties in the progressive move to underground services. The cables used in its recent launch in Christchurch and will use in Auckland are much smaller and less obtrusive than those used in the early days in Wellington. This shows a responsible approach.

It's time for Councils to make it easy for the company to start building, in the interests of the region's citizens."

ENDS

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