Interconnection? Don’t believe the hype

Hold the front page. Reports that Telecom and Clear have struck an interconnection deal fall somewhat short of the truth. With the Coalition and the Commerce Commission taking more of an interest in Telecom's activities the Telecom PR machine appears to have gone into overdrive and announced a deal that does not exist. Says Clear industry and standards manager David Stone "This is only an agreement to agree."

Hold the front page. Reports that Telecom and Clear have struck an interconnection deal fall somewhat short of the truth.

With the Coalition and the Commerce Commission taking more of an interest in Telecom’s activities the Telecom PR machine appears to have gone into overdrive and announced a deal that does not exist.

Says Clear industry and standards manager David Stone “This is only an agreement to agree.”

Whilst Stone says that the agreement is the first step towards number portability, call forwarding is the weakest function in the chain, and is by no means true number portability.

Compare and contrast the information received from the respective companies. Telecom issued a news release stating that “Telecom and Clear signed an agreement establishing number portability between the two networks."

Clear issued a statement the next day stating that “Clear claims interim forwarding a step forward: but still much ground to cover to achieve full number portability.” The release goes on to say that “Clear and Telecom have agreed to negotiate key commercial and operational terms for an interim call forwarding agreement.”

The two views are poles apart.

Grant Forsyth of TUANZ claims that Telecoms announcement was a Claytons agreement. Members of the telecommunications community share a similar view.

The other main difference between the two releases was the timing. The Telecom release was sent out on Wednesday night, in time for the national media to pick up on it. At this point Clear had not agreed to the terms of the contract, the document was still being studied.

The Clear statement was released on Thursday afternoon. The important difference here is that Telecom had already reached the press to suggest that all was well, and that the company had resolved a problematic issue.

This is obviously not the case. With pressure coming from the Commerce Commission and the Coalition government to clean up its act, Telecom has to be seen to be answering its critics.

Suggesting that an agreement over an important issue like number portability has been resolved does not make headlines in the national media, but it does warrant a mention. The story will have been forgotten the next day, but the PR battle will have been won.

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