Tuesday, 04 September 2018 10:34

New Zealand's mobile roaming services to remain regulated

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New Zealand's mobile roaming services to remain regulated Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New Zealand’s major mobile phone network companies will still have to provide access to their networks for new mobile operators entering the market, following a decision by the competition regulator against investigating whether mobile roaming services should be deregulated.

The Commerce Commission announced on Tuesday that it would not go ahead with its investigation, saying the current rules on roaming regulation should stay in force, requiring the country’s three mobile network operators — 2degrees, Spark, and Vodafone — to provide wholesale access to their networks for a period of time to any new mobile network operator.

“This allows a new operator to attract customers by being able to offer immediate nationwide coverage while it builds its own network,” the Commission said in a statement.

“We believe the roaming opportunity remains relevant because it could help any new mobile business enter the market in the future, as it did when 2degrees launched. Submissions we received on this decision generally supported this view,” Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said.

The Commission’s decision not to proceed with an investigation follows its preliminary decision on roaming regulation released in July, when it said roaming was not yet fully competitive – and regulation was “an important backstop, in case commercial negotiations break down in future”.

Under New Zealand’s Telecommunications Act, the Commission is required to consider the deregulation of certain services, including national mobile roaming, once every five years.

Under the Act, network operators are only required to provide access to a new operator meeting certain conditions, including having a network of at least 100 cell sites or having a network that covers at least 10% of the New Zealand population, and having a rollout plan for at least 65% population coverage.

National roaming regulation does not regulate wholesale access for mobile virtual network operators.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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