Minister grants telcos extension of numbering deadline

Telecommunications operators are to be given a little longer to agree on arrangements for number portability. The Minister of Communications, Maurice Williamson, originally declared yesterday as the deadline for operators to negotiate their own plans for numbering, or the government would step in. But Williamson says the parties have made 'substantial progress' on allocation and management of numbers and should be allowed more time to settle technical issues over number portability.

Telecommunications operators are to be given a little longer to agree on arrangements for number portability.

The Minister of Communications, Maurice Williamson, originally declared yesterday as the deadline for operators to negotiate their own plans for numbering, or the government would step in.

But Williamson says the parties have made "substantial progress", and have reached agreement on "all substantive points relating to the allocation and management of numbers independent of any individual operator. It is intended that this will be achieved by an industry-developed and managed solution."

Agreement has yet to be reached, however, on longer-term number portability issues.

"Portability of telephone numbers is currently provided in New Zealand by call-forwarding," says Williamson. "New Zealand's longer term inter-network number portability needs have yet to be identified and agreed. Telecommunications operators are working to agree on a suitable process which will be capable of satisfactorily resolving the matter."

Williamson says he has been advised by the Ministry of Commerce that the parties have agreed to continue to negotiate "in good faith over the next week or so on what are quite complicated issues.

"My overriding interest is in the best result for New Zealand, rather than meeting a particular deadline. Sufficient progress has been made to date to give me confidence that further negotiations are worthwhile."

Williamson says he is prepared to allow the negotiations to continue "until resolution is achieved or the Ministry advises me that no further progress is possible."

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