The lack of an interconnection agreement between Telecom and TelstraClear has the telecommunications users association (TUANZ) seething as reports of callers not able to connect are starting to come in.
TUANZ chief executive, Ernie Newman, has issued a statement decrying the lack of progress over this most fundamental of deals, saying it is the users who are paying the price.
"I've heard from members who say residential lines seem to be the most affected, but it's hurting business users as well." Newman cites the case of a businessman who deals with TelstraClear itself.
"He can't even get through to the head office without getting a 'your call cannot be connected' message."
Newman says calls to ISP call centres are also being held up because of issues over the interconnection agreement.
When Clear first launched into New Zealand in 1991 it signed an agreement with Telecom to allow callers from each network to make contact with users on the other network. Telecom and Clear have fallen out over the agreement on more than one occasion since then. In October last year Clear accused Telecom of trying to force it into unacceptable terms and conditions that include giving Telecom the right to veto any press statement made by Clear among other things. Currently Telecom and Clear do not have an interconnection agreement and the two companies are at loggerheads.
Telecom claims Clear owes nearly $20 million in interconnection payments and that is the major stumbling block to any progress being made on the issue.
"Telecom has been in contact with me and although they justify their stance there is nothing to say they plan to meet in the near future to sort this out," says Newman.
But Telecom is saying it had agreed on a deal with TelstraSaturn prior to TelstraSaturn's acquisition of Clear, and that the new company is going back on the deal.
"Telecom was under the impression TelstraSaturn and Clear were one and the same company with the same requirements. This does not now appear to be the case as Clear seems to be saying it doesn’t want the same terms as TelstraSaturn after all,” says Telecom's general manager of interconnection, Tim Lusk in a written statement. He says Telecom has worked with TelstraClear engineers to provide interconnection and he can't understand why the failures are occurring.
"We can only assume there is a major problem at their end, perhaps caused by their major reorganisation and the bringing of their two networks together."