TUANZ head Ernie Newman, who is in the running to head the international telecommunications user group INTUG, has let fly at the inadequacies of New Zealand’s telecomms regime.
Newman, along with TUANZ chairperson Judith Speight, gave the Pacific Telecommunications Council meeting earlier this month a lengthy list of remaining shortcomings of the newly re-regulated market.
They include “the residual strength of old state monopolies, the tendency of incumbents to frustrate competition and the tardiness of emerging wholesale markets”.
Newman's suggestions for solving some of the problems include liberating the numbering system from carrier control and unbundling the local loop.
Speight told the conference, an annual gathering of telecomms service providers and users in Hawaii, that "New Zealand was the first to deregulate, but the last to re-regulate" and that "legislation was far too long in the making". She also criticises the Telecommunications Act, which was passed in December, for being “watered down”.
She says the law is inadequate for the fact that the newly appointed industry regulator is not independent but within the Commerce Commission, and for not mandating local loop unbundling.
Telecom is "still on top 12 years after deregulation" and the mobile market is shared between Telecom and Vodafone, raising concerns about the potential for duopolies, Speight says.
The battle continues for number portability in New Zealand, which Speight calls a "serious impediment to competition". Another problem she identifies is the country's "antiquated call forwarding technology" which delivers "only limited functionality".
Internet problems she cites are low DSL availability and "grossly inadequate on/off ramps in spite of a superb interactive 'freeway' ".
The key issues for New Zealand, Speight says, are lack of investment, tardy regulation and backward-looking policies.