Support for TelstraClear's decision to ask the Telecommunications Commissioner to force Telecom to open up the residential service to competition seems far reaching, among Telecom's competitors that is.
Yesterday TelstraClear asked the commissioner to "order Telecom" to supply it with residential resale services. According to TelstraClear public affairs manager Mathew Bolland, that would mean customers would never have to receive a bill from Telecom again.
"Every residential consumer would have the ability to chose who their residential supplier was. You'd still be on the Telecom network, but we could resell residential services."
That could include local calls, line rental fees, toll calls, ISP and cellular services all on one bill.
"You could get the Telecom bill out of your mailbox for ever."
Currently any telco provider using Telecom's network is unable to provide such a one-stop shop because Telecom is the only company to bill the end user for line rental and maintenance charges. Under the terms of the Telecommunications Act, argues TelstraClear, it is required to allow other telcos to do the same.
CallPlus managing director Wayne Toddun says he "absolutely supports" such a move.
"Customers like it, it's convenient for them and it's convenient for us. We'd have a more direct relationship with our customer than we can at the moment."
TelstraClear also seeks to improve the electronic relationship between the two companies.
"TelstraClear’s application seeks terms of supply which are consistent with those offered in other countries. These include electronic billing, online ordering and committed service levels for ordering and provisioning and fault management," says chief executive Rosemary Howard in a press statement.
The CEO of WorldxChange, Philip Payne, says this is the crux of the difficulty in dealing with Telecom.
"Currently it comes under the wholesale area and the percentage we receive in doing that is so minimal that it doesn't make economic sense for us to do it." Payne says there is a high level of administrative costs dealing with Telecom on such issues as moving customers to a new premises or changing billing details that eats up any potential profit.
"We have total support for TelstraClear on this. Until the margin is there we're not going to move."
The chief executive of the Telecommunication Users Association (TUANZ) Ernie Newman says the society is "firmly in support of a vibrant wholesale market and expects any roadblocks to that to be removed as quickly as possible."
Late yesterday Telecom sent out a written statement expressing disappointment that TelstraClear had decided to halt the negotiation.
Telecom believed it was "making progress" according to government affairs manager Bruce Parkes.
"We’ve always preferred negotiation, as the act requires," says Parkes.
"Telecom and TelstraClear recently negotiated a settlement on most
interconnection issues that we’re both happy with. We could have done that on residential access as well."
A spokeswoman for the commission says it has received TelstraClear's application will decide whether or not to take the matter further. The Act says such a determination must be made within 10 working days.