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Government Proposals “Measured”, Says Telecom

The Government’s regulatory framework for telecommunications is a significant change from the status quo and goes further than necessary, Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung said today.

“However, set against the Telecommunications Inquiry Report in September, the Government’s approach is measured and pragmatic,” Ms Gattung said.

“The Government has sensibly focused on any potential roadblocks to competition and stayed away from undue intervention in a highly competitive industry.

“Telecom is committed to working positively and co-operatively with the new framework,” she said.

Ms Gattung said if there was going to be a specialist telecommunications commissioner, the most appropriate place was within the Commerce Commission, where it would serve as a backstop to resolve disputes.

“This year, industry members have demonstrated how they can work co-operatively in a highly competitive marketplace. We don’t need close bureaucratic oversight. We need continued innovation and the ability to quickly respond to new market initiatives. That is only possible in an environment where the players are free to get on with business.”

Ms Gattung said Telecom had worked with the Government to determine how the 10-year-old Kiwi Share agreement should be updated.

“Over the next couple of years Telecom has agreed to contribute a big part of the significant cost of upgrading some remote and geographically challenging parts of the rural network,” she said.

“We are pleased the Government has agreed Kiwi Share losses should be fairly shared by the industry.

“Telecom is also pleased the Government has recognised the need for us to be able to lower prices in the profitable main centres, as competition grows in the residential access market.”

“We are particularly pleased that no mobile services have been regulated, reflecting the highly competitive nature of this market,” Ms Gattung said.

“However we do not support the designation of wholesaling. We already provide wholesale service along the lines spelt out by the Government. As we’re already doing exactly what is proposed, why impose unnecessary regulation?

“We remain concerned that the category of specified services is an invitation for regulatory expansion. Because there are currently no specified services this may be seen as a vacuum waiting to be filled,” Ms Gattung.

“The restricted appeal rights proposed should be a concern for the broader business community. This move is an undermining of the court’s ability to act as a check and balance against the power of the State.

“Overall, we hope the proposals presented by the Government will provide a workable framework that will not impede new investment or the provision of new services to customers at competitive prices,” Ms Gattung said.


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