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Telecom Demands Seventy Percent Price Hike

Telecom Demands Seventy Percent Price Hike - CLEAR Says 'No.'

CLEAR is resisting a seventy percent hike in Telecom's interconnection prices and restrictive anti-competitive terms. Telecom finally assured CLEAR that customers will continue to receive service just hours before threatened disconnection after 30 September 2001.

Kevin Millar, CLEAR's Executive General Manager of Corporate Affairs, says Telecom's market dominance still makes it impossible to establish fair and reasonable agreements that allow competitive offers to consumers.

"The contract terms that Telecom proposes are unreasonable and we cannot accept them. We would not be doing the right thing for our customers. The seventy percent price hike is entirely unfounded. CLEAR is committed to achieving a fair and reasonable agreement with Telecom despite threats to disconnect us."

"We could not accept terms that denied CLEAR the right to go the Commerce Commission for dispute settlement, having to seek Telecom's approval before making media statements and paying bills even when they are wrong."

Mr. Millar says New Zealand's recent telecommunications inquiry, international benchmarks and independent economic studies, all clearly demonstrate that Telecom's interconnection charges are more than double New Zealand's main trading partners and those charges expected under New Zealand's new telecommunications regime.

Mr Millar says CLEAR meets all its payment obligations to Telecom and notes that Telecom has overcharged CLEAR by several million dollars.

"Telecom is withholding substantial payments owed to CLEAR. These issues are going through a resolution procedure agreed by both companies last year."

"Billing inaccuracies for services supplied by Telecom under interconnection or other arrangements are suffered by the entire industry and have not been rectified by individual request or complaint. Audits of our bills show that CLEAR has not had a correct billing month from Telecom for several years. This calls into question Telecom's entire billing system and practices. We advise Telecom's customers to record and time their calls and check their bills."

Mr. Millar says CLEAR has asked Telecom for a transparent and independent approach to provide confidence in the billing system that underpins retail pricing for the New Zealand telecommunications market.

"Under the new Telecommunications Bill we look forward to an environment where there is more genuine freedom to operate competitively and commercially rather then dealing with the constant obstacles of misused market power. "


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