Chief executives at Vodafone and TelstraClear have ruled out zero-rating internet traffic to the new on demand content provider Quickflix.
At a panel discussion at the Telecommunications and ICT Summit in Auckland this morning both Vodafone’s Russell Stanners and TelstraClear’s Allan Freeth said that their customers’ traffic to the Quickflix site would continue to be counted towards data caps.
When the video on demand service launched in New Zealand last month Slingshot and Orcon announced that customers’ data from the site would be zero-rated.
When Computerworld suggested that Quickflix was competition for Sky TV, Stanners replied: “Saying Quickflix competes with Sky is like saying the corner dairy competes with Countdown.”
Freeth told the audience that Quickflix had limited content available and that its movies are “five to six years old.”
“Quickflix won’t be successful until Telecom and TelstraClear decide to unmeter it,” Freeth said.
TelstraClear’s current contract with Sky TV could prevent the telco from zero-rating Quickflix, said Freeth. “Contract wise I’m not sure we are allowed to by our friends at Sky.”
When Computerworld told him that Sky TV has indicated that Vodafone, Telecom and TelstraClear, can zero rate Quickflix data, Freeth replied. “That’s what they say publicly, not quite privately.”
Prior to the panel discussion ICT Minister Amy Adams again rejected regulatory intervention in the content market in order to facilitate uptake of the Ultra Fast Broadband network. Here’s the reason she gave to Computerworld’s question about regulation:
“I think at this very early stage of the broadband rollout we have to be careful not to get ahead of where the market will develop and even in the short space of time since that last speech we’ve seen some new market entrants and things starting to change.
“The other thing I’m very aware of is that competition law in NZ is very carefully regulated under the Commerce Act, you have the Commerce Commission sitting there as our competition watchdog with a number of powers able to look at any allegations of inappropriate behaviours of dominant positions, so I’m very confident that they have the skills they need to investigate any allegation that arises in that space.
“More widely I’d need to see examples of clear regulatory failure and consumer loss before we were ready to step in. At this stage it’s very early in the process and the backstop of the ComCom approach to regulating competition is there already, I’m confident of where we are.”
However Freeth predicts that “there will be some type of regulatory intervention in the next two years, to encourage Sky TV to move away from its monopolistic practices.”
Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds was not present at the conference.
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