Clear calls for transparent and speedy telecomms bill

Clear is generally happy with the new Telecommunications Bill but is concerned about a number of clauses that it feels were not part of the last year's telecommunications inquiry.

While Clear Communications is generally happy with the new Telecommunications Bill it is extremely concerned about a number of clauses that it feels were not part of the findings handed down by last year's telecommunications inquiry.

The bill is currently before select committee and public submissions are being heard in Auckland shortly.

"We want a transparent consultative process, that’s all,” says Clear’s manager of industry and regulatory affairs, Grant Forsyth.

Top of Forsyth’s list of things to change about the bill is the inclusion of a “non-discrimination” clause.

“We want Telecom to be required to treat us as the same as it treats itself when it comes to monopoly services like local loop.”

Forsyth says this is one of a number of clauses it would like to see that would bring New Zealand regulations into line with regulatory regimes around the world.

Another that would be high on his list is the question of how wholesale is defined — the phrase used is “retail minus avoidable costs”.

“In other jurisdictions retail price is set as the best observed price. In the bill it’s defined as best observed or average which is quite a different ballgame.”

Forsyth says every telco who makes contact with a customer over a potential deal will find out what other telcos are offering.

He says by taking only the “best observed price” new players will be able to offer a competitive deal whereas an average of offered prices will still see new players marginalised as Telecom can simply report high retail prices and then offer cut-throat deals knowing the average price will be higher than their best price.

“And how do you weight the different prices offered when you are averaging it out — do you weight each price the same or vary it depending on the offer on the table and its particular conditions?”

Forsyth would also like to see Telecom set up a wholesale division to offer its products and services out to competitors in a transparent fashion, something he says happens overseas.

“What we’re all looking for is a clear, speedy decision on any issue so we can say one way or the other ‘this is what’s happening’ and move on.”

The select committee is expected to report back to government by the end of August.

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