Telecommunications Bill Strengthened
“Today the Commerce Select Committee reports back the Telecommunications Bill after a thorough review, recommending a number of measures to strengthen the Bill in line with the Telecommunications Inquiry” Titirangi MP David Cunliffe said.
“The committee worked cooperatively on the Bill and a number of amendments received by-partisan support” he said.
“Additional amendments proposed by government members have the support of the Minister. I expect these to be introduced during the Committee of the Whole stage” David Cunliffe said.
“I would stress that, even as amended, the Bill represents a moderate and relatively lighthanded approach to telecommunications regulation by international standards” Mr Cunliffe said.
By-partisan agreement was reached on the following:
- Prohibiting the use of the Baumol Willig rule for forward-looking, cost based inter connection pricing;
- Confirming “TSLRIC’ as an appropriate inter connection pricing rule while allowing the Telecommunications Commissioner to use “bill and keep’ as an alternative where this better satisfies the purpose of the Bill;
- Strengthening wholesaling disciplines by allowing the Telecommunications Commissioner to impute efficient prices for retail service elements;
- Shortening time frames for the Commissioner to make determinations or decisions;
- Designating fixed to mobile pre-selection from Telecom’s Network as a multi-network service;
- Clarifying the Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) through a new purpose clause and giving the Telecommunications Commissioner the option of using weighted or unweighted costing methodologies.
Additional amendments proposed by government members include:
- Promoting competition and long-run consumer (end-user) welfare through an amended purpose clause in Part II, aligned with the revised Commerce Act.;
- A mandatory 24-month review of the need to designate local loop unbundling of Telecom’s fixed local loop network;
- Further strengthening wholesaling disciplines by explicitly removing monopoly rents and inefficiencies from retail-minus prices, and requiring a 24-month review by the Telecommunications Commissioner on the effectiveness of these disciplines;
- Including price-capped retail services from Telecom’s fixed telecommunications network;
- Including mobile roaming and cellsite co-location as specified services. This provides a strong signal to industry that access to these services must be provided if requested;
- A new fast process for moving from specification to designation in the event that markets do not operate in line with the purpose of the Bill;
- Improving the criteria through which local authorities and road owners can facilitate the installation of telecommunications cables and infrastructure in road reserves.
Government members have called for the Commerce Commission to review the budget of the Telecommunications Commissioner with a view to increasing it in line with the additional responsibilities and faster time frames required in these amendments. Government members also call for action on text relay services for the hearing-impaired.
“Government members’ proposals reflect the large number of detailed submissions and draw upon the recommendations of the Telecommunications Inquiry”.
“I would like to thank all members of the Select Committee for their hard work and extensive cooperation on this Bill. I look forward to seeing it proceed through the House” David Cunliffe said.