Give us a ruling on Kiwi Share, Isocnz demands of Birch

The Internet Society of New Zealand is asking the government to make clear that the Kiwi Share applies to all local calls and 'not just those which Telecom decides upon'. Isocnz members in an online poll overwhelmingly rejected Telecom's claim that the Kiwi Share does not apply to data calls.

The Internet Society of New Zealand (Isocnz) is asking the government to make clear that the Kiwi Share applies to all local calls and "not just those which Telecom decides upon".

Isocnz's official position follows a June 25 meeting with Telecom during which a list of questions from Isocnz members on Telecom's move to force Internet users to dial new 0867 numbers or face a two cents per minute charge was discussed.

Telecom eventually supplied a written response to the questions on Thursday. This was discussed by Isocnz members and voted on in an online poll on Sunday.

The resistance to Telecom's claim that the Kiwi Share - which commits Telecom to free local calling for residential users - does not apply to data was overwhelming in the poll. Eighty nine per cent of those who voted believed that "data calls should be covered by the Kiwi Share and remain free for residential users."

Isocnz has written to Sir William Birch to ask for a ruling on the issue

"Our position is clear - we believe that Telecom is wrong to attempt to exclude data calls from KiwiShare and we oppose any such suggestion. KiwiShare guarantees free local calling for New Zealanders," said Isocnz's chair Jim Higgins in a statement yesterday.

"The Kiwi Share is a commitment to the government and people of New Zealand entered into by Telecom when it was sold. It guarantees New Zealanders access to free local calling. Now more people are using the Internet it appears that Telecom would like to redefine its commitment".

The views of Isocnz members were less clear-cut on some related issues. Thirty one per cent were prepared to countenance Telecom's charge on Internet dial-ups to ordinary phone numbers, so long as 0867 calls remain free.

Only 29% believed Isocnz should actively oppose the existence of the 0867 numbering scheme, with more than twice as many saying it should "neither support nor oppose the scheme but work to modify any particular parts which are causing concern".

Three quarters said the Isocnz council keep trying to get better assurances and conditions for ISPs who migrate to 0867, but 21% believed there was no point in such a stance and that 0867 should be wholly opposed.

More than two thirds said Isocnz should not get involved in the issue of interconnection payments between Telecom and Clear, which is widely suspected to be at least partially behind Telecom's initiative.

Higgins says the council was "heartened that at a meeting with Telecom it gave a positive response to [issues other than the Kiwi Share] raised by Isocnz, including an urgent need for an extension migration deadlines, that all costs associated with the change would be met by Telecom, and that smaller ISPs would not be penalised by having to find cash up front. We hope that Telecom will shortly announce the revised deadlines."

Isocnz executive director Sue Leader says the debate within the society "has demonstrated the seriousness of the unilateral announcement of changes by Telecom.

"We have received extensive, and in some cases conflicting, opinions on other aspects of the scheme, which reflects the differing impacts the 0867 changes have upon our members and the Industry as a whole. The debate and discussion is far from over, but after a membership poll on the issues the society now has a clear base from which to monitor the issue and to take action as appropriate."

Related information can be found on the Isocnz Website at"

http://www.isocnz.org.nz/0867link.html

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