INDEPENDENT NEWS

Telecommunications Competition Key To Wave

Published: Thu 2 Aug 2001 11:58 AM
Telecommunications Competition Key To Catching Wave
If the Government is serious about catching the knowledge wave, it must ensure that all New Zealanders have access to high speed data and internet services at a fair, competitive price, Green Telecommunications spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
Ms Kedgley said the Government must unbundle the local copper wire network to make this happen.
"If we don't open this network to competition, we will be trying to compete in the international information technology race with our shoe laces tied together," Ms Kedgley said.
Ms Kedgley said opening the copper wire network up to competition could be easily achieved if the Government would agree to amend the Telecommunications Bill presently being considered in Parliament.
"I simply cannot understand how a Government that claims to be committed to innovation and to catching the knowledge wave could continue to oppose proposals to open up the local copper wire network, presently a Telecom monopoly. Virtually every other country in the OECD has already done this," said Ms Kedgley.
Ms Kedgley said the telecommunications infrastructure is the crucial access way into the information economy, just as the railways were to the industrial economy.
That is why it is recognised internationally that opening up the local copper wire network is an essential step in the development of an internet economy and the transition into the information age.
Competitive access to the copper wire network is essential for high speed data and internet services.
Ms Kedgley said cheap, high speed communication is the life blood of most businesses, but at present many businesses are being held back as they are not able to access competitively priced high-speed data and internet services such high speed DSL technology, which is available to overseas businesses.
She said farmers, too, are unable to get access to the high speed internet services they need to compete internationally - because Telecom's competitors are not able to offer more sophisticated services to the rural consumer.
Ms Kedgley said the economic costs to New Zealand of this bottleneck in our telecommunications infastructure were substantial. "While the copper wire network remains a national monopoly, new entrants and competitors in the telecommunications field have a restricted opportunity to enter the local access market and provide innovative competitive services to consumers."
Ends

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