An unusual challenge is being made for the chairmanship of the Telecommunications Users Association, Tuanz, with deputy chair Chris O'Connell vying with current chairman Merv Altments for the post.
O’Connell says he sees 2008 as a “tipping-point year” for New Zealand telecommunications.
That is about two philosophies of telecommunications, he says. One is the internet model of interoperability and “comfortably separated layers” that can be obtained from different suppliers and customised separately. The other is the old vertically integrated telco model.
“The trend [towards independently provided internet-style fibre networks] that started with Citylink is now going nationwide,” he says. Such vital tools as voice-over-IP and high-definition videoconferencing are “no longer the preserve of a few chief executives” but critical to the success of New Zealand’s economy.
“I want to make a difference at this crucial time and I think I can only do that from the chairman’s position," he says.
“This is not an overt criticism per se of the current leadership,” he says. “But it’s important that the debate be had.”
O'Connell wants Tuanz to position itself as the voice of the user within that debate, above the interests of competing or interrelating vendors.
Altments declines to comment beyond saying such moves happen from time to time in many organisations and O’Connell has "every right to do it”.
Voting forms have gone out for the postal ballot which ends on May 2. The result will be announced at Tuanz’s Telecommunciations Day on May 8.