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National to support unbundling plan

John Key MP National Party Telecommunications Spokesman

03 May 2004

National to support unbundling plan

The National Party says it will support the recommendations by the Telecommunications Commissioner, Douglas Webb, made in relation to local loop unbundling.

"This is a finely balanced debate and it has taken some careful and detailed analysis," says National's Telecommunications spokesman John Key.

"I believe the Commissioner has correctly assessed that emphasis should be placed on bit stream and partial circuit unbundling - rather than opting for copper loop unbundling.

"I'd expect this plan will deliver maximum medium and long term benefits to all New Zealanders.

"We acknowledge the current low take up rate of residential broadband, and welcome the suggestions made by the Commissioner for improvements in this area.

"National notes however, that other issues - such as the impact of free local calling, the overall wealth of the nation and exposure to broadband technology - have all played a part in our low world ranking for residential broadband participation.

"We applaud the Commissioner's attempt to introduce light-handed regulation, while maintaining a commercial focus to dispute resolution. This is a dynamic situation and I would urge the Commissioner to remain vigilant," says Mr Key.

"I have identified three key areas that deserve Douglas Webb's ongoing attention.

a) A regular review of the growth of broadband in New Zealand.

b) A review of commercial negotiations to ensure they take place on a 'good faith basis' and if commercial impediments cannot be resolved by the parties sensibly then we would endorse the Commissioner responding with a more prescriptive solution.

c) In part the likely success of bit stream unbundling will rely on a solid wholesaling agreement. The introduction of a 256k cap meets the likely demand for residential users for the foreseeable future, although we would conclude that over time this might not be the case. Whilst we have never supported anyone's automatic access to Telecom's next generation network as of right, it would be important that the Commissioner continues to review the conditions of wholesaling agreements to ensure they always apply to conditions in the current market.

"In reaching our conclusions, the National Party believes this will provide much wanted fixed line competition, particularly in the residential area where this is currently not available. It should also guarantee inter-modal competition from wireless competitors giving them flexibility to grow and flourish," says Mr Key.


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