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Econet warns the broadband community

Econet warns the broadband community

Econet Wireless New Zealand (Econet) has warned the broadband industry about the risks of allowing the wholesale broadband industry working groups to be subsumed underneath the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) – as was signaled earlier this week in the media.

“The TCF has been a disaster for mobile, which has been stuck in the TCF trap for four years now. It has been one of the incumbents’ primary weapons of mass frustration. It has been a key obstacle to competition, not a catalyst,” said Econet’s Chief Project Director, Tex Edwards.

“The broadband industry does have an advantage in numbers, but it should still be very wary of the TCF. Without one helluva shake up and genuine powers of monitoring and intervention for the regulator, there is no reason to expect its behaviour will meaningfully change,” said Edwards.

One of the TCF’s few meaningful tasks in regard to mobile competition was the development of a co-location code – that would set out the principles of access to cell sites.

The TCF was asked by the Telecommunications Commissioner to develop a co-location industry code way back in 2003. Without that code being required to deal with the all important question of price, it still took an incredibly painstaking three years for a draft code to be presented to the Commissioner. Even then, it was promptly rejected by the Commissioner on the grounds it was not helpful to create competition. The Commissioner asked the TCF to revise their code in June 2005, yet we are still waiting for a final.

“It has now taken some four years for the TCF not to agree a co-location code that doesn’t even deal with price. That is crazy.”

“Self-regulation of competition is nonsense in a natural monopoly industry. Econet is warning of serious flaws to the start of the unbundling process. Self-regulation may deal quite merrily with the likes of spam and privacy issues, where interests are common, but we are kidding ourselves if we think incumbents will willingly facilitate their own loss of market power,” concluded Edwards.


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