A highlight of Judith Speight’s seven years as chair of TUANZ came in the past month when she helped broker an out-of-court settlement between TVNZ transmission arm BCL and Walker Wireless over a licence allocation dispute.
The mediation process was slow and meticulous.“We spent considerable time with the managing directors of both companies, discussing the issues,” Speight (pictured) says.
She cites this role of the telecommunications user body as a compelling reason to admit carriers as members of what is principally a consumer group, brushing aside questions of how independent such a group can be when telcos are involved.
“What we’ve done in the past decade speaks for itself in terms of our credibility — we’ve proven our independence.”
Carrier class membership means that telcos support TUANZ’s work but don’t influence it, she says.
“We changed our constitution to make it that telcos couldn’t become board members.”
Having carrier members, with the conditions attached, has been hugely beneficial “because it means we’ve had access to information from those companies”.
After seven years as chair Speight is stepping down, to be replaced by current TUANZ vice-chairman Graeme Osbourne, CIO at the Statistics New Zealand.
Speight says TUANZ has achieved a huge amount by taking part in the preparation of the Telecommunications Act, passed in December 2001, but there is still some way to go before users get the best possible telecomms service.
“There’s always some way to go — we’ve done the building and now it’s about working within those rules, to really make the most of them. We have the regulations, now we have to mould them into something usable that will deliver better value.”
TUANZ will continue to play a role in the shaping of the new telecomms landscape, she says. “We’re the independent, credible body that sits at the table.”
Issues that continue to dog carrier customers include the saga of number portability and the need for local loop unbundling, which she says is “world best practice, with New Zealand and Mexico the only two OECD countries yet to commit to it”.
Speight, who runs her own company, ittwrkz, says she has “a couple of private-sector projects and a government project to work on” after she finishes at TUANZ.