Negotiation the aim for Telecom's wholesaling division

Getting commercial agreements rather than going to the Telecommunications Commissioner is one of the priorities for Telecom's wholesaling division.

Getting commercial agreements rather than going to the Telecommunications Commissioner is one of the priorities for Telecom's wholesaling division.

Tim Lusk, head of the division, was asked by Telecom operations chief Simon Moutter to set up the division in February last year.

It employs about 60 full-time staff. Account teams manage larger customers, like TelstraClear and Vodafone, while account managers look after two or three smaller accounts each.

This past year has been one of immense change, says Lusk, with the implementation of the first telecommunications regulatory environment in New Zealand in over a decade.

While Telecom might have some issues with the Telecommunications Commissioner, Lusk says the incumbent is working hard at becoming more responsive to customers.

"We do go head-to-head with them but that's just the market. We negotiate a commercial agreement."

Getting a commercial agreement rather than going to the commissioner is Telecom's preference and Lusk says it's one of the priorities for his team.

"The regulator sees commercial negotiation as valuable and so do we. Issues only get to the regulator's desk if commercial negotiation has broken down."

Lusk is alarmed, however, by the speed with which decisions from the commissioner can be enacted.

"In New Zealand we are much faster to decide on any decision compared with other countries. We also have much less room for review or appeal after any decision is made."

Lusk believes Telecom's relationships with customers who are also competitors has become more professional in many respects in the last year.

"If you ask TelstraClear or Vodafone they would probably acknowledge that we've become far more professional with regards to account management."

The Telecom wholesale team doesn't simply look after fixed line wholesaling either - the mobile network is also open to wholesaling, although with such a large degree of competition from Vodafone, Lusk says there is less incentive for Telecom to offer simple resale agreements.

"Our mobile agreements tend to focus more on the value-add services such as text messaging rather than just reselling our network service."

The year ahead will also prove to be a busy time for Telecom's wholesale team with the commissioner launching his investigation of unbundling of the local loop. Lusk says his team will be working closely with government affairs manager Bruce Parkes on this issue.

"Unbundling is a high-stakes issue. If the commissioner has to looks at regimes around the world he'll see a number that haven't achieved the desired outcomes in terms of either uptake of lines or penetration of DSL into the market."

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