Telecom gambit "looks okay on the surface" says Williamson's office

A spokesman for Communications minister Maurice Williamson says Telecom's move to force Internet users to its new network or pay for local calls 'looks okay on the surface but we will be looking at the implications in depth.' Williamson's Labour counterpart, Marion Hobbs says she is 'shocked' and Clear Communications says Telecom's 0867 network is 'simply a way of avoiding any interconnection agreement'.

Telecom has sparked a maelstrom of protest at its move to shift all data traffic onto a new numbering system.

"This is simply Telecom's way of avoiding any interconnection agreement," says Clear Communications spokesman, Ross Inglis.

"There was no consultation – it's come as a complete surprise."

Within hours of the announcement a Web site, www.talk.co.nz/0867 sprang into life, complete with a petition that will be sent to Telecom.

"We are encouraging all internet users and ISPs to complete the following form - which will send the following message to Alan Mitford-Taylor, Account Director at Telecom and Tony Ripper, Senior Customer Manager, Industry Services Unit (the contacts on the announcement)," write the site creators, Mark Mackay, internet coordinator for Digital Edge and Seeby Woodhouse from MD Orcon Internet.

Tthey say there is a second petition that will be emailed to Minister of Communications, Maurice Williamson: "If you include your physical address, they are required to reply by law!"

Late last night Williamson's press secretary Peter Burdon said Telecom's move "looks okay on the surface but we will be looking at the implications in depth."

He went on to say if there was a problem with Kiwi Share then the Minister would step in.

Labour's spokesperson for Communications, Marian Hobbs, was shocked to hear of Telecom's decision.

"You can tell them I'm very cross. This smacks of Telecom making decisions without any consultation that will affect the whole New Zealand economy."

Hobbs will be raising the issue with the Minister and with her colleagues in the next few days.

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