Govt pulls off telecomms coup

The government has pulled off the coup of the century, yet nobody appears to have noticed - major telcos seem happy with the country's new telecommunications environment.

The government has pulled off the coup of the century, yet nobody appears to have noticed — major telcos seem happy with the country’s new telecommunications environment.

“It’s like a tough business negotiation where everyone comes away feeling as if they’ve been hurt but they can live with it,” says Telecom’s government and industry relations manager, Bruce Parkes.

Clear, Telecom, Vodafone and TelstraSaturn are all set to work in the new environment that will be put in place this year, in line with Telecommunications Minister Paul Swain's response to the telecommunications inquiry.

“We’re expecting the legislation to be before a select committee by March or April and then enacted in law by August or September,” says Swain’s press secretary, Kerry Lamont.

The laws are needed to establish the position of telecommunications commissioner, who will come under Commerce Commission auspices.

“You have to remember this is a major change from the status quo. Everyone seemed to be of the opinion that data calls should be free but Telecom had legal advice that they were not covered [by the Kiwi Share provision],” says Parkes. He says Telecom had come to the conclusion that changes would be made early on in the piece and concentrated instead on being part of the process of change.

“We crossed a few bridges early on with that realisation.”

Clear Communication’s spokesman Ross Inglis is also pleased with the outcome but would like to see any proposed legislation before commenting in detail.

“As is often the case with these sorts of things the devil is in the detail,” says Inglis, who is waiting to see just how the legislation is worded and enforced.

“It’s a bit like the weather — you can complain all you want but you still have to work in that environment,” says Vodafone’s new managing director, Grahame Maher. He says the company is happy with the outcome and says the next year should be an exciting one for the telecommunications market.

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