Challenger shoots down licence plan

TeamTalk managing director says carrier licensing will create unnecessary barriers

Challenger telcos are either actively hostile or very cautious about a plan to licence telecommunications operators.

David Ware, the managing director of network operator TeamTalk, says a push for carrier licencing by the Telecommunications Industry Group (TIG) is "just another example of the big boys trying to squeeze others out".

TIG CEO Rob Spray told Computerworld last week licensing was discussed at a recent board meeting and TIG is strongly in favour of the idea. He says a licence will set minimum requirements for industry participation and could cover areas such as 111, lawful interception and other areas.

Ware says mobile radio operator TeamTalk, which also own the CityLink broadband network in Wellington, doesn't offer services such as 111 emergency calling.

"We simply tell people it's not supported," he says. "Customers know that, are quite happy with that and life goes on."

Ware says TeamTalk's network is very specialised and not for mom and pop users.

A licence could also be used to fund the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum (TCF), which negotiates industry standards and regulation.

Another thorny issue is membership of the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution Service. Earlier this month, TeamTalk applauded Orcon when it withdrew from the service. Slingshot is also not participating.

"It is further evidence that the process is fundamentally flawed and that the industry cannot be relied on to police itself," Ware said.

Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett said smaller telecommunications companies were paying a disproportionate share of the costs of the scheme.

He was also frustrated that Orcon consumers were contacting the scheme administrators, Dispute Resolution Services, before they had raised queries or complaints directly with Orcon, with Orcon then being billed by the company for passing on those messages.

Mark Callander, the general manager of CallPlus, says he is "naturally cautious" about moves to license carriers.

"We are certainly in favour of standards if these can be agreed," he says.

He says definition is needed around what a carrier is. A range of IP service providers don't fit the traditional model. In fact, there are only a handful of true carriers in New Zealand, he says.

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