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TUANZ welcomes Commission’s preliminary findings but warns

TUANZ welcomes the Commerce Commission's preliminary findings contained in their initial report on the state of the mobile market in New Zealand, which has been released today.

“As the only membership based group representing the users of digital technology and connectivity, the importance of a report such as this, prepared by an independent statutory organisation cannot be underestimated.” said Craig Young , CEO of TUANZ.

“Our members have continued to tell us that while they recognise that the NZ market has delivered increased competition, they wanted this independent review undertaken to identify areas where the market needs improvements to increase competitive outcomes.”

TUANZ is pleased to see that the review recognises that the market is generally headed in the right direction, which reflects the feedback from a recent member survey on this topic.

TUANZ also identified the two key issues that the Commission raises in this initial report. On the topic of the allocation of scarce spectrum to operators in NZ, we have pushed strongly for a more holistic approach in this area. We strongly believe that the national interest and the interest of users should be taken much more into consideration than a simple auction for the highest price. This would include ensuring regional players are able to participate as well as allowing the possibility of additional new entrants into the market. Our concern is that this is not current Government Policy, and while the Commission has identified it as an issue, it is a Government Department (MBIE) that controls allocation. We call on the relevant Minister’s to take cognisance of the Commission's view in this area and look to make changes to the upcoming allocation rounds, especially for the development of 5G networks.

The second issue is around user choice when it comes to the number of operators offering services. Our members have indicated to us that whilst they are comfortable with the current range of providers, they would be keen to see further targeted options. In Australia we see 1 million connections being provided by MVNOs or Wholesalers rather than the MNOs themselves, and while this is only 3% of the total market, they do represent over 29% of the prepaid market. We are still very keen to see growth in the wholesale marketing of services and welcome the recent announcements of two new MVNO deals. We will respond to the Commission's report asking them to be vigilant and keep a very close eye on developments over the next short period before making their final decisions on whether there is a need for some form of regulatory reform in this market.

The Chair of TUANZ, Liz Gosling (CIO Auckland University of Technology) reiterated that “As the truly independant representative group of users of these services, we will continue to fully engage with our members to ensure that their views are represented to the Commission as they undertake the next steps in this review.”

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