Telecommunications providers and users should stop quibbling on broadband statistics, accept that broadband will have a major effect on the economy and work on measures to encourage its effective deployment, says InternetNZ in its cross-submission on Telecommunications Act reform.
Reports quoted in submissions by TelstraClear and Tuanz on New Zealand’s parlous position in the international broadband landscape have been disputed by other submission authors, InternetNZ says.
Telecom, in particular, emphasised in its submission the strides that had been made recently in broadband availability. “However, even if the impact of a fully functioning telecommunications market (including broadband) is considerably less than those reports indicate, the impact on the economy is still highly material to GDP (and thus to section 18 outcomes),” InternetNZ says. Section 18 of the Act specifies the basic objective of ensuring an efficient and competitive telecommunications service for the user’s benefit.
By limiting the review to implementation issues, the government has taken too narrow a view, InternetNZ suggests. Within those limitations, a liberal view should be taken, it says, to help achieve competitive and efficient service.
“InternetNZ considers that the Commerce Commission Submissions in particular makes responsible and balanced points and suggestions for change,” says the cross-submission. “InternetNZ endorses most of the recommendations that are made,” including those that argue for greater sharing of information to implement true multilateral negotiations.
InternetNZ cites recent withdrawal of internet peering services by TelstraClear as just such a multilateral matter, involving telcos and a multitude of ISPs. It is perhaps appropriate to give the Telecommunications Commissioner increased power to instigate formal determinations in such areas, where, InternetNZ says, the user is disadvantaged.
“There is no strong industry support for this, but nonetheless it remains one issue on which MED should take care to try and hear the voice of the end users (who are not making submissions), rather than running with the preponderance of views from the telecommunications providers.
“The world-beating delays over local number portability are self evident and in themselves demonstrate a need for the Commission to be able to instigate activity.”
The internet organisation disputes Telecom’s contention that “reference offers” — a means of speeding such multilateral negotiations — will represent a needless extra step in the process. InternetNZ considers that reference offers will in fact reinforce the primacy of commercial negotiation rather than lead to additional regulatory activity overall.”