Landmark Telecommunications Act passed

  • Paul Swain
Communications and Information Technology

The government has passed landmark telecommunications legislation aimed at reforming the telecommunications industry in New Zealand to deliver a better deal for consumers.

Communications Minister Paul Swain says the Telecommunications Act aims to
bring greater certainty, investment, competition, opportunity and consumer benefit.

“Central to this new legislation is the establishment of the Telecommunications Commissioner,” he said.

“The Commissioner will reside within the Commerce Commission and will be responsible for resolving industry disputes over regulated services. The Commissioner will work with the industry to promote competition for the long-term benefit of New Zealand.

“Ex-pat New Zealander Douglas Webb has been appointed to this role.

“The Telecommunications Commissioner’s key roles are to;
·Resolve disputes over access to regulated services;
·Recommend regulation of new services or changes to the scope of existing regulation, if the need arises;
·Provide a process for implementing, costing and enforcing “telecommunications services obligations” (TSOs) such as, working out how much it costs to meet the obligation, and applying a mechanism for apportioning any net costs amongst telecommunications service providers.

There are two level of regulation provided for in the legislation.
·Designation (an obligation to provide the service, including pricing principles). The services designated immediately are:
-Interconnection with Telecom’s fixed telephone network;
-Number portability;
-Wholesaling of Telecom’s fixed network services (including residential lines)
-Fixed to mobile carrier pre-selection from Telecom’s fixed network;
·Specification (an obligation to provide the service, not including pricing principles).
The services specified immediately are:
-Mobile roaming;
-Mobile cell site co-location; and
-Co-location on BCL’s sites.

“New Zealand needs a telecommunications regulatory regime that intervenes only where it is necessary to make the market operate more efficiently.

“The new regime ensures a fine balance between encouraging further investment by existing players and lowering the barriers to investment by new players.

“In other words, as much market as possible, and as much government as necessary.

“This will mean more choice for consumers and more competition in the market,” Paul Swain said.