“We’re looking to move towards a complete agreement — wholesale and interconnection — and are very keen to conclude negotiations,” says Telecom spokesman Andrew Bristol.
Bristol wouldn’t go into the details of the points of disagreement, saying they were “commercially confidential”.
However, “it’s no secret that we’re off-contract with the old Clear and the old TelstraSaturn and, now, with TelstraClear”.
Because the nature of the interconnection issues is “fairly technical and legalistic”, it will take “weeks to months” to conclude the deal, he says.
TelstraClear’s change manager, Kevin Millar, says going to telecommunications commissioner Douglas Webb over the broader interconnection issue would be a last resort and the new carrier’s preference “is to engage in negotiation and discussion”.
He says interconnection with Telecom makes TelstraClear its largest customer “and as such, we’d like to engage with them on a commercial basis”.
Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) head Ernie Newman says there are plenty of precedents around the world of competing telcos negotiating interconnection agreements, not the least of which is the Telstra-AAPT deal, which he points out “is between essentially the same players [as in New Zealand]”.
The two Australian telcos had been in dispute over interconnection pricing since 1998. Newman says of the situation in New Zealand that “there’s too much historical baggage getting in the way of what should be a fairly straightforward deal. There’s the residue of a decade of litigation and the cultural gulf between the two companies.”
However, he says “every day [internationally], competing telcos are negotiating interconnection agreements.
“The negotiations are tough but the solutions are real and there’s nothing fundamentally different about the Telecom-TelstraClear situation.”