Participation and protection vital from Telecommunications Act process

23 November 2015

InternetNZ's analysis of submissions on the Telecommunications Act Review process highlights just how important this process is to New Zealand Internet users, and just what is at stake in this process.

Our analysis is available here: Summary of Telco Act Review submissions

InternetNZ Chief Executive, Jordan Carter, says what is clear in these submissions is a clear split in preferences for process. This split is between the majority of the telecommunications industry wanting a new industry-led, commercial process and a wider set of stakeholders that value inclusive, public, transparent processes and proactive user price protections.”

Further to that analysis, InternetNZ is today calling upon the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to an open, collaborative process for the next steps in the review - an approach that protects the interests of users of telecommunications and the Internet in New Zealand.

InternetNZ recommends two, essential criteria for that process.

Firstly, that all discussion is held in open, participatory and transparent forums and processes.

“Users and other interested organisations have just as much at stake in these discussions as the industry. That means that all vital elements of this process are discussed in open spaces,” says Carter.

InternetNZ is concerned that the industry may wish to further its proposals behind closed doors.

"We haven't seen that work out in telecommunications anywhere else in the world, and it is unlikely to work out here. In fact, the metaphor that springs to mind is ‘foxes designing hen houses.’ The industry proved with its pass-through of wholesale price costs early in 2015 that it does not always have consumer interests at heart. That’s fine - that’s why a public, transparent regulatory framework is vital.”

Secondly, that priority is placed on clarifying regulatory standards and processes to allow implementation of the framework by 2020.

“It is equally important that New Zealanders have confidence and predictability in Internet prices,” says Carter.

“InternetNZ believes that's best achieved by proactive regulation of pricing for fibre and copper services to be in place by 2020 - so we all know where we stand.”

“Regulators are the vital protection for consumers. Commercial deals in environments like telecommunications access pricing never end up with the best deal for customers - in the absence of a contractual price (as initially set under the UFB programme) only a well-funded, capable regulator has the analysis and power to stand up to the interests of companies worth billions of dollars, and to encourage competition while driving the best possible bargain for those paying the bills.

InternetNZ is committed to working with the Ministry, the Government and with the telecommunications industry to achieve an outcome that is workable, sustainable and fair for all parties.

“Our telecommunications and Internet infrastructure is vitally important to New Zealand, both economically and socially. It is vitally important that we get this process right,” says Carter.