TUANZ faces extinction, members told

CEO Paul Brislen says the telco users organisation needs $400,000 to survive another year

The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) may fold within a month, unless more of its members renew their annual subscription fees.

CEO Paul Brislen says the organisation that has represented telco end-users for 26 years is at a “make or break” position. Unless it receives $400,000 in membership fees, it may not survive the year.

“Any less than that ($400,000) then we really can’t do much. Predominantly that’s paying for me, travel, and for support services. The travel is really just from here (Auckland) to Wellington and back.”

He says with the funding TUANZ would improve its website, seeking to make it a hub for discussions on “all things telecommunications”. The organisation would also have the resources to provide input around such issues as the use of the 700MHz spectrum, improving rural broadband services, and tackling content and copyright issues.

Membership renewals reminders go out every year in April, but it is not until mid-July that the organisation will know if it has enough funding to continue for another year. Brislen says the organisation has to date collected around $250,000 in fees.

In his weekly email letter to TUANZ members on Friday, Brislen said there is a “strong possibility” the organisation will fold. “Our budgets are at an all time low and there’s not a lot else to cut. We are totally reliant on membership fees to keep us going,” he wrote.

“So I urge you all, if you haven’t already paid your fees, please do as soon as possible. Conversely if you’re not going to re-join, let us know as soon as possible so we can work out where we stand.”

Brislen told Computerworld that Chorus is not a member of TUANZ, but that Vodafone has signed up. Many government departments have also not renewed their memberships, citing budget cuts, but others, such as Te Puni Kokiri, have signed up.

Earlier this year several staff members were made redundant and the TUANZ office in Takapuna was closed. Brislen now works from home, where his family have effectively become guardians of the organisation’s heritage.

“My basement is full of the TUANZ archive, there are cardboard boxes for Africa and I can’t get in to change the light bulb at the back, so a little bit of a problem. I’m happy to retain all of that because it’s a good solid history going back 26 years now,” Brislen says.

TUANZ board members include its chair Pat O’Connell who is CIO of Rank Group, treasurer Kevin Drinkwater, CIO at Mainfrieght, and secretary Doug Wilson, CIO of Automobile Association.

Earlier this year the organisation asked for funding from InternetNZ for a research unit but this was turned down. It has also tried to form partnerships with the Ministry of Economic Development and is currently talking with the Telecommunications Carriers Forum about reviving the TUANZ Innovation Awards.

In meantime Brislen says he will spend the next two weeks on the phone talking to members, urging them to pay their fees.

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