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Telco Groups Suggest New Way Forward For UFB Bill

26 April 2011

Telco Groups Suggest New Way Forward For UFB Bill

The telecommunications and industry group opposed to the UFB Bill is suggesting 'win-win' alternatives to their concerns around a regulatory holiday for successful fibre bidders and loss of Commerce Commission oversight to UFB prices and services.

The group including Call Plus, Kordia/Orcon, TelstraClear, Vodafone, 2 Degrees, Opto Network, Torotoro Waea, Federated Farmers, Consumer New Zealand, TUANZ, and Internet NZ, last week sent a letter to all MPs outlining their concerns around the Bill.

TUANZ Chief Executive Paul Brislen says a letter from the group sent this week to Craig Foss, the chairperson of the Select Committee, considering UFB initiatives contained in the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, outlines possible solutions to the group's concerns with the Bill.

The group fully supports broadband infrastructure investment, and while group members have a range of serious concerns with the Bill as it currently stands, their focus is on working with Government to find a solution.

Brislen says the letter sets out an alternative to a regulatory holiday and brings the Commerce Commission back into the picture, while also providing certainty to lines fibre companies and access seekers.

The model for the alternative plan is the 'Special Access Undertaking' (SAU) approach successfully introduced to the Australian telecommunications regulatory regime in 2002.

"Regulatory certainty could be provided to access providers by ensuring an approved SAU prevailed over any subsequent attempt to regulate prices," Brislen says.

"At the same time, regulatory oversight of prices could be maintained by allowing the Commerce Commission to review and approve price terms in a SAU," he says. "Hopefully, in this way we can reach a situation where everyone committed to protecting New Zealand consumers and ensuring the country moves forward in the digital age is satisfied, and at the same time New Zealand's competitive environment is preserved."


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