Lobby forms to put pressure on broadband project

Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Brislen.
Photo / Paul Estcourt
Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Brislen. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Telecommunications companies and consumer advocate groups have united to try to ensure that the successful bidders for the Government's ultrafast broadband project do not become lightly regulated monopolies.

The group is being fronted by the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) and includes Vodafone, Two Degrees, TelstraClear, Call Plus, Kordia, Opto Network and iwi-backed Torotoro Waea.

The consumer groups represented include Federated Farmers, Consumer New Zealand, Tuanz, and InternetNZ.

The group has sent a joint letter to all MPs outlining concerns with the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

"Chief among our concerns are the bill's proposals to give successful fibre company bidders a 10 year holiday from regulation, and the removal from the consumer watchdog Commerce Commission of any oversight of prices and services until 2020," Tuanz chief executive Paul Brislen said.

"In our view the regulatory holiday should be scrapped or at the least substantially modified, and the consumers' champion - the Commerce Commission - should be allowed to do its job," Brislen said.

The bill would allow Telecom to create a new, wholesale monopoly when it was separated into two businesses, he said.

The Government is investing up to $1.5 billion in an open-access fibre service providing download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 50 Mbps to 75 per cent of New Zealanders over 10 years.

Telecom, which has proposed splitting into two separate companies, has been selected for preferred negotiations covering 25 candidate areas.

- NZPA

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