The Commerce Commission is expecting to release its report into mobile ternination rates early next week, says commissioner Anita Mazzoleni. She says an announcement on roaming can be expected at the same time.
Speaking at the 10th annual Telecommunications and ICT Summit in Auckland today, she said New Zealand mobile charges rank well in the OECD, but the fact that two thirds of Kiwis use prepay plans mean they are, in fact, paying 70% more than the OECD average for mobile services. New Zealand ranks 27th out of 30 countries in the OECD for prepay services.
Vodafone's Russell Stanners, however, in an address an hour later, said prepay prices here are comparable with Australia when the charges are “unpicked”. He said mobile penetration is also higher in New Zelaand than Australia, a finding that surprised him.
Stanners says having more players in the market is driving a real increase in competition.
Mazzoleni says the controversial pricing of sub-loop unbundling services involved three rounds of consultation and reflects the cost of the service. At the same time, she appeared to acknowledge it made the business case harder. She reiterated the commission's statements that the gap would be filled through demand for higher value services.
She emphasised the benefits of self-regulation through undertakings, saying these provide the opportunity for providers to tailor the environment and deliver certaintly more quickly than a regulated solution.
She says one key objective of the commission is to ensure investment continues. She said the sector had invested $1.2 billion in the last year and while half of that might involve replacement, it would deliver a stimulus effect in a recession as well as improving services to users.
Major investments included Telecom's cabinetisation and XT network build, 2 Degrees' network investment and network extensions by Vodafone. Telstraclear has upgraded its network and Vector is still rolling out fibre.
She said the cumulative effect of the investment would see New Zealand catch up with technology available in other markets.
The Commerce Commission is monitoriong investment closely to make sure it continues as regulatory settings changed, she says.
While New Zealand was 18th out of 30 countries in the OECD for broadband, there is “still a long way to go”, she says.
Mazzoleni says that, among other initiatives, the Commission is seeking to formalise and streamline its relationship with the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum while maintaining its own independence.