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Telecommunications Red Tape Removed - Williamson

Growing competition in the international telecommunications market has led the Government to reduce red tape on companies offering international telephone services in New Zealand, Communications Minister Maurice Williamson announced today.

"We've decided to repeal regulations requiring companies providing certain international telecommunications services to be registered with the Ministry of Commerce at a cost of $10,000 a year," said Mr Williamson.

"They were introduced in 1989 to reduce the risk of international monopoly companies taking advantage of the open New Zealand market, to the detriment of New Zealand consumers. This was because an overseas monopoly company may only accept incoming calls from the highest bidder among New Zealand companies, which would inflate the price to consumers."

"But now with the liberalisation of Australian, North American and European markets as well as the thriving competition in this country, the regulations are no longer needed."

Mr Williamson said this competition had significantly reduced the cost of New Zealanders making international toll calls in recent years and repealing the regulations would reduce the red tape and added costs on telecommunications companies.

"Although the chances of overseas monopoly suppliers being able to harm New Zealand users is now extremely remote, the Government will retain the regulation making power under the Telecommunications Act, in the unlikely event it is needed in the future," said Mr Williamson.

The regulations will be repealed when the necessary amendment to the Telecommunications Act 1987 has been passed. Until this has been completed, operators must continue to register, but the $10,000 re-registration fee will be removed from July 1 1999.

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