The country’s major telecommunications companies - bar Telecom - have formed the New Zealand Telecommunications Industry Organisation to provide a forum for discussing and resolving issues affecting the market.
Telecom has declined an invitation to join BellSouth, Clear Communications, Telstra New Zealand, Global One and Saturn Communications in the new organisation.
Telecom media manager Clive Litt says such a group “could look like it has the potential for collusion”.
At the NZTIO launch last week, Telstra managing director Peter Williamson said the group was confident Telecom would eventually join. A representative of Tele-com’s media department showed up at the launch but was there as an observer only, he said.
Litt says that Telecom has a copy of the organisation’s charter, is looking at its proposal and will watch how the group operates, but at this stage it doesn’t believe the NZTIO is in the best interests of the consumer.
“The main reason being that you have the major players in the industry, and these are large companies, getting together to make decisions and that could affect service to the industry. The market, as it is, operates very well.”
The NZTIO disputes this saying that since deregulation in 1989 the industry has been in turmoil — dominated by intransigence, legal action and bickering.
At the group’s launch, Clear chief executive Steve Burdon said there is confusion in the market leading to wasted time and high costs. As well as being an industry forum, the group, which between its members represents more than $1 billion in foreign investment, will also lobby the government about telecommunications issues.
“There needs to be a better set of ground rules,” said Burdon.
The NZTIO said it had not set up the group because of dissatisfaction with TUANZ. “TUANZ is a mechanism for representing telecommunications users,” said Williamson. However, all companies said they would remain in TUANZ. Telecom pulled out of the user group last month.