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Chris Carter Appalled at Telecom's Price Increase

8 November 2002 Media Statement

Chris Carter Appalled at Telecom's Price Increase

Telecom's move to charge rural people thousands of dollars for new phone lines was outrageous, Local Government Minister Chris Carter said today.

"Rural communities are some of our most vulnerable. There are plenty of people in these communities who struggle to pay Telecom's existing connection fee. How are these people supposed to pay charges of up to $4000?"

"I was in a meeting with mayors from throughout the central North island this morning and they were furious that Telecom would show such contempt for rural New Zealand," Mr Carter said.

"One mayor has raised with me the case of a subdivision on the outskirts of Opotiki. There are to be 250 homes in this subdivision and Telecom has told the people moving in they must pay $2000 each to get a phone line.

"With its new charges, Telecom is making $500,000 out of a subdivision on the outskirts of a provincial town."

Mr Carter said he was concerned that if some rural communities could not afford new phone lines, their access to essential services such as police and fire services was going to be constrained.

"There is a saftey issue here. A phone line is a modern necessity, and that fact Telecom appears to have completely ignored.

"Ministers will be meeting Telecom next week and I will be advocating on behalf of mayors and local government to seek whatever remedy is possible to this situation."

Telecom announced this week that customers seeking new phone lines would be charged a price related to the population density of their area. Instead of the standard $61.88 charged up till now, some telecom customers could face charges of upto $4000 for a new phone line.

ENDS

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