IT leaders seek action on number portability

The government is dragging its feet over number portability and it's time for action. That's the result of this week's Computerworld 1000 Survey, where we talk to IT managers from 30 of New Zealand's top companies. Most of the respondents commented on either the minister or the government's lack of action. 'All talk and no action,' says one respondent, while another described the minister as 'too hands off'.

The government is dragging its feet over number portability and it's time for action.

That's the result of this week's Computerworld 1000 Survey, where we talk to IT managers from 30 of New Zealand's top companies.

When asked if the government should bring in legislation on the issue, 10 respondents said it should, while 16 said it wasn't an issue for government. Despite the numbers, most of the respondents commented on either the minister or the government's lack of action. "All talk and no action," says one respondent, while another described the minister as "too hands off".

Paul Morrison, general manager of the Christchurch branch of Computerland, feels the issue is much more than simply number portability. He would like to see two things from government — more leadership and more attention to the basics of IT.

"They try to make out that they're encouraging IT in New Zealand but they don't pay enough attention to the building blocks of the industry." He thinks the minister should attend fewer publicity launches of "gadgets" like devices for tracking cars and spend more time leading the industry.

"Don't get me wrong, I think the minister is a very intelligent man — he's a great speaker and he knows his stuff, but either the government's not listening to him or he's not pushing the issues."

Morrison believes one of those issues is the single number for life.

"There's the potential there for a Big Brother kind of thing. It's an issue we'll have to tread very carefully on."

Morrison would also like to see the government leading the way for the future of New Zealand's IT industry as a whole. "We should be putting more money into schools for IT — it's the only way."

Murray Bayly, accounts manager with Greenfields, believes Telecom has been dragging its feet when it comes to allowing competition into the New Zealand telecommunication market. Greenfields, a rural co-operative venture with turnover of $50 million a year, uses Clear for long-distance calls but still has an 0800 number with Telecom.

"If I were in Telecom's position, I'd be doing the same myself, but it isn't in the best interests of the consumer in the end." He believes companies competing with Telecom will eventually have to lay their own cables, which will prove costly.

Bayly believes that with today's technology there should be no problem when it comes to which service provider a user chooses.

"We use Clear for toll calls but have to add extra digits when we call a cellphone. It shouldn't be up to the user to do that — that's what we have computers for."

Bayly believes that control of phone numbers should reside with the telecommunication companies but the majority of respondents, 21 in total, want an independent body to run the numbering issue. Not one respondent wanted the government to control phone numbers, and only nine wanted them in the hands of the industry itself.

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