Commerce Commission chair John Belgrave has reiterated that the new telecommunications commissioner will only get involved in any negotiations between telcos if talks break down. The commissioner won't be forcing contracts on telcos until they’d reached that point.
Belgrave reinforced the government’s position on the new commissioner at an industry conference in Wellington yesterday.
“The mandate for the regulator is seen clearly by the government as intervention where it will add value, but not at the expense of delaying or proscribing decisions which are clearly those of the players,” he said.
Also speaking at the conference was minister of telecommunications Paul Swain who used his speech as a way of reminding telco industry players of the problems of the past.
“Interconnection ... has been a bone of contention particularly between Clear and Telecom in the first half of the 1990s. Clear invoked the Commerce Act and the case took about five years to resolve and ended up being considered at Privy Council level.”
Swain says interconnection will be one of the areas given priority by the new commissioner and if companies cannot agree on a contract the commissioner will be forced to step in and decide for them.
Swain also mentioned the 0867 numbering scheme and number portability as two other areas that have been contentious in recent years.
Once the new Telecommunications Bill n passes into law the new commissioner will be appointed. To help the successful applicant with the new role, Belgrave says the commission has already begun work to help them hit the ground running.
“The commission has commenced preparatory work which is designed both to support the yet to be appointed ... commissioner and also to minimise delays in getting the regulatory regime underway”.