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Time to stop the mobile rip off: Kedgley

10 June 2005
Time to stop the mobile rip off: Kedgley

The Green Party is backing the Telecommunications Commissioner's call that he be given the power to rein in the price of calling a mobile phone from a landline.

Telco watchdog Douglas Webb has found 'mobile termination charges' are excessive in New Zealand and is asking the Government for the authority to limit them. Mobile companies charge this margin for accepting calls from a landline, with the cable-based companies in turn passing it back to the caller using the fixed phone.

"Anyone who calls a mobile from a landline is being ripped off," said Sue Kedgley, the Greens' Telecommunications Spokesperson.

"Telecom and Vodafone are exploiting the fact that ringing a mobile is often now a necessity for many people, such as parents keeping track of their teenagers. It is also a classic example of big companies reaping an unreasonable dividend off the fundamental business needs of small companies.

"The Commissioner has had a long, hard look at this issue. His call is not unreasonable and must be supported. The telcos can whinge all they want, but ultimately the parameters within which all commerce operates are set by the State on behalf of society as a whole. This rort has now been exposed and it's time it was closed down.

"If Mr Webb succeeds in cutting this charge from 27c to 15c a minute, most New Zealanders would see one of their major monthly bills - their landline in their homes and businesses - drop dramatically. That's the equivalent of a serious tax cut, but it will be at the expense of corporate profits, not Government services.

"Having said that, while cheaper calls will save people a lot of money, it will probably lead to greater use of cell phones. Mobiles are a wonderful technology that facilitate modern life, but authorities should be keeping a close eye on their health effects, as the jury is still out on the safety of prolonged or intensive use, particularly by youngsters.

"We would therefore also like additional regulatory powers for the Telecommunications Commissioner so that he can regulate marketing that encourages young people to use their mobiles to an excessive degree," said Ms Kedgley.

ENDS

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