Outcome of Telecommunications Numbering Review

  • Maurice Williamson

A three month deadline for industry and officials to resolve telecommunications numbering issues to avoid regulatory intervention was set today by the Minister of Communications Hon Maurice Williamson.

"Availability of telecommunications numbers is an essential part of enabling effective competition. Entrants to the market need more certainty of access to numbers so they can provide competitive services," the Minister said.

"Prompt implementation of cost-effective and technically satisfactory number portability arrangements are also required so consumers can retain their phone number when they change their telecommunications supplier."

"These are complex issues that other countries have had difficulty in resolving.

"Some good progress has been made in New Zealand where competitors have obtained numbering resources and some already have number portability arrangements with Telecom.

"The issues that remain include:

- a fair and independent process for administering and allocating numbers;
- portability for 0800 numbers;
- developing a cost-effective approach to long-term number portability;
- the development of dispute resolution processes

"I recently asked for the work on developing regulatory options to be accelerated. I have now received a detailed report which makes some useful recommendations for the future.

"Of the options put forward in the latest report, I am keen to see the industry working with the Ministry of Commerce to develop a proposal that involves voluntary independent number administration with access to a dispute resolution procedure.

"I want to emphasise, final acceptability of such an option would depend on whether it contained principles and procedures that were satisfactory to the Government, and in particular whether it adequately provided for the resolution of number portability," the Minister said.

Arrangements are under way for meetings to be held between the Ministry of Commerce and telecommunications carriers to develop acceptable arrangements.

"However, I want to make it very clear to all parties that, if arrangements that are satisfactory to the Government are not concluded by the end of November, I will recommend a regulatory solution to the Government," the Minister said.

"These are likely to include:

- setting allocation and portability rules and procedures;
- establishing an independent number administrator, funded by industry;
- providing access to compulsory arbitration

"I hope we can avoid the need for a regulatory solution by putting in place satisfactory arrangements agreed with the industry", Mr Williamson said.