A TUANZ summit in the wake of the government's telecommunications inquiry echoed with calls from the telco participants to "get on with it".
"It", as understood at the Wellington event last week, is working toward the position outlined in the inquiry’s final report.
“The real question is what’s in it for the consumer,” says Clear chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos. “Information technologies are creating jobs throughout [other nations’] economies and we cannot afford to be left behind.
“We’re not asking ourselves the right questions,” he says. “We should stop debating on our rival ideologies and consider what’s important – what the customer gets.”
“That’s the challenge of the inquiry report,” says TUANZ chair Judith Speight. “We can talk about tweaking this and that – but let’s get on with it.”
Telsta-Saturn head Jack Matthews says characterising as heavy-handed the inquiry's recommendation of that a telecomms commissioner be appointed is "hyperbole". "It isn’t, not in world terms.” Risk-averse investors look for some degree of market regulation, to make the environment for investment more predictable, he says.
Telstra-Saturn and Vodafone New Zealand used the event to announce an agreement to develop and provide combined mobile-landline products. The deal is indicative of a spirit of co-operation even before a regulator is in place, Matthews says. “In our view, the inquiry has broken little new ground on a world scale.”
But he too lent his voice to the call for action: “Let’s stop the academic studies and make it work.”
Wireless telecomms provider Walker Wireless had advocated a “steady as she goes approach” with a very light-handed regime, but its view has changed slightly after discussing telecomms questions with other providers, says managing director Rod Ingalls.
Now the company is in favour of “some regulation” in interconnection and number portability. Ingalls was a new entrant to the summit, since his company has only recently been involved in the mainstream telecommunications market.
Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung was, as might be expected, the chief dissenting voice. There has been a transformation of telecommunications as we move into the new century, she says.
“The inquiry report has not grasped that transformation. It could have been written 10 years ago,” she says. With its concession to regulation it represents a back-sliding away from the current environment, she says.