Can Telecom cooperate?

CallPlus challenges Telecom's promise of a new attitude

CallPlus founders Annette Presley and Malcolm Dick have lost no time challenging Telecom to make good on its promise of a more competitive and constructive attitude.

They want Telecom to immediately provide competitors with an unconstrained broadband service, something CallPlus and Ihug have asked the Commerce Commission to rule on.

Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung told the TUANZ Telecommunications Day audience last week that in the new unbundled era, “We [Telecom] are not going to be obstructive. We are not going to mount any rear-guard actions. We are not going to fight old regulatory battles. We are not going to hide behind legalistic arguments.” Dick then challenged her directly to hand CallPlus an unconstrained UBS immediately.

Gattung replied that she was not aware of the latest stage of the negotiations — an admission Presley says astonished her. Surely Gattung expected the subject to come up and should have been prepared, Presley says. Gattung asked for more time before coming back to CallPlus with an answer.

When asked about the issue, Telecom spokesman John Goulter said Telecom would “not negotiate these things through the media”.

Presley says she also wants Telecom to supply full information on the present structure of its network and its foreseeable plans, in the spirit of the commitment to openness that Gattung says Telecom will observe.

In particular, Presley says she wants to know whether the roadside cabinets that Telecom will use in a forthcoming fibre rollout will be big enough to accommodate equipment from other competitors, and if not, why not?

Presley says she can’t see any new entrant, particularly from overseas, being willing to start up in New Zealand without such information.

She also wants to know Telecom’s contention ratio — the maximum number of users likely to be sharing one broadband link — which is said to be as high as 140 to 1.

By comparison, UK incumbent telco BT says it works to a maximum of 50:1 for domestic and 20:1 for business lines.

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