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Inquiry Should Set Better Standards

Inquiry Should Set Better Standards For Rural Telecommunications

Rural New Zealanders are in danger of falling into the Third World half of the 'digital divide' unless the Telecommunications Inquiry revisits its recommendations on the Kiwi Share," Federated Farmers telecommunications spokesperson Tom Lambie said today.

"This report is cold comfort for those New Zealanders who are waiting for telephone connections, let alone reasonable Internet access. Rural exchanges are already overloaded, with loss of basic voice services occurring every evening due to overloading. New households are unable to be connected because the exchanges are at their limit."

The draft report recommends that Telecom should be required to make ordinary residential telephone services available to the extent they are today. However, in some parts of New Zealand, residents already cannot make simple voice calls.

"Federated Farmers will be recommending to the Inquiry that simply stating that Telecom be required to 'increase the proportion of its residential customers that have reliable low-speed data access', in accordance with a publicly released annual programme is not enough."

"The draft report simply does not address the fact that rural New Zealand needs to be part of a reliable and accessible telephone network. The report blithely says that 5% of lines do not have reliable data speed of 14kbps. What it does not admit that this is almost the entire rural network."

Federated Farmers supports industry solutions, but is disappointed that the Kiwi Share obligation will remain with Telecom. The draft report does recognise the weakness of the present Kiwi Share obligations not covering data access.

"I challenge the Inquiry members to explain to people of the Gisborne region or explain to the 30 plus households at Inangahua how their current poor service is all Telecom will be obliged to supply," Mr Lambie concluded.


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