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Minister urged to accept revised position on telcos

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

Wellington, May 12 NZPA - Communications Minister Steven Joyce is being urged to accept a revised Commerce Commission report recommending controls be placed on the prices mobile phone companies charge competitors to connect to their networks.

The stance is different than the one it took in February recommending the Government should accept voluntary undertakings from Telecom and Vodafone as an alternative to regulation.

The move comes after Vodafone last month launched a new Talk Add-on product offering up to 200 minutes to Vodafone New Zealand mobiles and landlines for $12 a month for certain pre-pay plans.

After Vodafone launched that product, Mr Joyce asked the commission to reconsider its earlier recommendation.

In a statement today the commission said its preliminary view was that, in light of the new Talk Add-on plan, the mobile termination rates contained in the final undertakings offered by Vodafone and Telecom would not address its concerns about competition.

The introduction of Vodafone's new call plan was evidence that assumptions made by Telecommunications Commissioner Ross Patterson and commissioner Gowan Pickering regarding Vodafone's future behaviour had been undermined, the commission said.

Labour's communications and IT spokeswoman Clare Curran said today Mr Joyce should accept the revised recommendation.

"The minister must act swiftly to regulate so that the industry can move forward without uncertainty," Ms Curran said.

She said the commission had accepted that gaming behaviour by big telcos in the market represented a barrier to expansion by a new entrant, and regulation would provide certainty and fairness for consumers and players in the telco market.

The commission is inviting submissions on the draft reconsideration report, which are due by May 19, and Mr Joyce said it wasn't appropriate to comment in the meantime.

"The next step is for them to consult with affected parties and it's important that we let them get on with that," he said. "I expect the commission to release its final report in the next month or so. I will consider the final recommendations and endeavour to make a decision in a timely manner."

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