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Download 2.0 - Commerce Commission wants marketing code, bet

[caption id="attachment_50779" align="alignnone" width="768"]New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau
facility in Waihopai. One last chance to show a photo of New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau facility in Waihopai.     Photo from Schultz.[/caption]

Commerce Commission wants marketing code, better dispute resolution

On Monday the Commerce Commission instructed the telecommunications industry to develop a marketing code. On Thursday it called for improvements to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme.

Both moves are part of a larger ComCom project to reduce the remaining customer pain points.

The Commerce Commission wants to see a marketing code that gives customers all the information they need to make informed buying decisions.

It issued a set of marketing guidelines and told the Telecommunications Forum (TCF), the industry body, it has 60 working days to turn these into a retail service quality code.

Accelerated process

That timetable will mean working through the summer months. In part that’s because there is pressure to move fast.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson says there’s increased marketing active thanks to Chorus starting to remove the copper network and Spark retiring the old public switched telephone network.

Although it will take time to develop the code, Gilbertson wants telcos to move their marketing in line with the yet-to-be-developed code as we head into Christmas. This is traditionally a busy time for sales in the sector.

When the code is developed, the Commerce Commission wants it to be binding on TCF members.

Specific guidelines from the Commerce Commission include:

  • Making sure consumers have sufficient notice of changes to copper service so they are not rushed into decisions.

  • Telling consumers about the full range of available alternatives. In most cases this won’t square with what their existing providers want them to buy.

  • Information on the performance of alternative services. The Commerce Commission wants to see the end of claims of speeds “up to” and theoretical maximums.

Upgrading disputes resolution scheme

New Zealand’s 14-year old Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme (TDRS) is about to get its first upgrade.

Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson wants to see improvements to raise the profile of the TDRS with consumers and lift its performance.

He says: “Our work shows… that most consumers have never heard of the scheme and, even if they have, they can find themselves locked out because many basic issues, including speed and performance problems, are currently excluded.”

This means there is a fragmented way of dealing with telecommunications complaints.

His plan is to upgrade the scheme to make it “a one stop shop for fast and effective resolution” of complaints.

One key change is to make the TDRS independent of the Telecommunications Forum. The TCF is made up of telecommunications service providers which can make for blurred lines of accountability.

TCF chief executive Paul Brislen says his organisation has started working on the TDRS upgrade.

He says; "…consumers are given contradictory messages about who to contact if they have issues with their provider. We want to make these processes as clear as possible for consumers and we support the Commission’s desire to have a one-stop shop for consumers to resolve their complaints.”

There are a lot of complaints. The TCF says it handled 2812 complaints and enquiries from customers last year.

Brislen says 98 percent of these were resolved promptly with service providers working with the customers.

2degrees hits new revenue high in Q3

2degrees services revenues hit $148 million in the third quarter. That’s an increase of 7 percent on the same period a year earlier. The company has reported record revenues for three quarters in a row.

The numbers reported by Trilogy International Partners, 2degrees’ parent company, show an eight percent year-on-year rise in postpaid connections. That’s an indiction 2degrees is earning better margins.

Broadband connections are up 13 percent and revenue from the broadband part of the business is up 15 percent year-on-year.

In the announcement 2degrees said its 5G network will launch in the first quarter of 2022.

Sky to join TDL contributors

Spark, Vodafone, Chorus and 2degrees will continue to pay the largest share of the government’s Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL). But there’s a new name on the contributor list this year: Sky TV, which is now a significant player in the broadband market.

This year’s TDL is $10 million, down from $50 million in recent years. The levy is used to pay for essential, but not commercial, infrastructure and services such as rural broadband, a relay service for deaf users and 111 emergency calling.

The Commerce Commission has issued a draft determination and is looking for submissions by November 23.

Spark signals 5G progress

Speaking at Spark’s AGM, CEO Jolie Hodson said the company now has 5G coverage at nine locations. As previously noted in the Download 2.0, Spark is accelerating its 5G roll-out.

Hodson told shareholders Spark will spend an extra $35 million in this financial year bringing the total 5G investment for the year to $125 million. The plan is for nationwide 5G coverage by the end of 2023 although that depends on spectrum rights.

Elsewhere at the AGM, Spark said its Skinny Jump connections for low-income families now has 15,121 active connections.

Mattr to provide My Vaccine Pass plumbing

Spark-owned Mattr won the closed competitive tender to provide the technology underpinning the Ministry of Health’s My Vaccine Pass. The pass is a QR code that shows a person’s vaccine status. Having a pass will let people into shops, other businesses and events.

Waihopa spy site has done its dish

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is to close the Waihopai satellite communications interception station. Announcing the closure, GCSB minister Andrew Little said the site is no longer needed and is close to obsolete.

In other news

Immarsat has merged with Viasat. The satellite companies both planned to start LEO networks next year to rival Starlink.

Weta Digital is the latest New Zealand technology business picked up by an overseas buyer. The buyer is Unity, a US-based 3D content specialist. Reseller News says the deal is worth $2.3 billion.

At the New Zealand Herald Chris Keall reports that Privacy Commissioner John Edwards’ move to the plum UK privacy role is now official.

The Download 2.0 is a free weekly wrap up of New Zealand telecommunications news stories published every Friday.

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