Telcos slug it out in High Court

Judgement expected at noon

It was a battle of wits and technical facts between lawyers of the old guard incumbent Telecom and mobile giant Vodafone at the High Court in Auckland yesterday.

Vodafone wants an injunction to stop the launch of Telecom’s XT mobile phone network as it says the network is interfering with Vodafone’s.

See also: Vodafone seeks to 'shut down competition'

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The court had a substantial audience ranging from industry body TUANZ, lawyers interested in the case from a professional view through to concerned mobile users. There was so much media interest that even the jury box was full.

Julian Miles QC of Wilson Harle, representing Vodafone, got a point in first by citing a case where Telecom settled a similar anticompetitive case with a smaller telco company called NZ Communications in March this year.

The anticompetitive claims, counter claims and technical data revolving around radio frequencies continued throughout the day.

Pheroze Jagoze of Chapman Tripp, representing Telecom, claimed that Vodafone knew about the network interference for months.

Jagoze provided the best quote of the day for radio/TV journalists looking for that elusive soundbite when he said that Telecom walked into the case eyes wide open while Vodafone walked in with eyes wide shut.

The serious mood of the proceedings was broken when a mobile phone (not switched off as per court rules) chimed in with the familiar Vodafone text tone.

Justice Geoffrey Venning quipped “At least someone is getting reception.”

The two counsels seemed evenly matched on points by the end of a long day. Justice Venning makes his decision at midday today barring an early settlement of the dispute.

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