Telco group downplays cartel fears

New CEO lays out the Telecommunications Infrastructure Group's agenda

The newly formed Telecommunications Industry Group (TIG) is beginning work on its goal of becoming recognised as the voice of the telco industry in New Zealand.

And it says any concerns about cartel behaviour from the group are misplaced.

“Our industry hasn’t got a great history of working together,” newly appointed CEO Rob Spray told Computerworld on his first day on the job last Monday.

“It’s my job to change that and make what we are very transparent, publish what we’re doing on our website, make it clear and open and make our policy position very, very clear.”

He says while the group hasn’t documented any rules around what is allowed to be discussed, converations around pricing and terms and conditions are off-limits and telcos are “absolutely” aware of this.

“We set agendas, those agendas are circulated and we have board minutes. So I don’t think we really need to guard against it so much, as we know what we’re actually there to do.”

The group is made up of representatives from most major telcos and promotes common telecommunications provider interests.

Spray, previously the managing director of Nortel New Zealand, says one of the group’s priorities is to help telcos grow and expand their networks and capabilities in socially responsible and sustainable ways.

He says the group will also be forming policies around the government’s review of the Resource Management Act and other areas of regulation.

“Universal services obligations is an area that we’ll start to develop a policy on,” says Spray.

Another key point will be ensuring that investors in the government’s new fibre network achieve a reasonable rate of return on their investments.

Most telcos have joined the group, but Telstra Clear and 2 Degrees are notably absent from the list of members.

Spray says both companies were invited to join the group and were involved in early discussions.

“They both said ‘not yet’ rather than ‘no’. There’s no separation there,” says Spray.

Spray says he won’t speculate on why the telcos haven’t joined, but for 2 Degrees, he says it could be the case that it’s too busy starting up.

Callplus, Citylink, FX Networks, Kordia, Telecom (Group), Woosh, WorldXChange, Vector and Vodafone have all joined TIG.

Spray says TIG is still in its early days and has some administration matters to work through, such as setting up a website. “We’ll have a website up and running by about the end of July,” he says.

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