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Changes to telecommunication bill

Published: 12:24PM Tuesday November 28, 2006 Source: Newstalk ZB/One News

Telecom has been spared the indignity of seeing bits of itself being sold off under government orders. But a select committee considering legislation aimed at breaking its dominance of the telecommunications market has recommended a number of changes.

The Telecommunications Amendment Bill was introduced to parliament on June 29 and implements the Labour-led government's pledge to deliver faster, better broadband internet access, as unveiled in the pre-budget telecommunications stocktake package in May.

The committee is recommending Telecom be split into three divisions in a bid to force the telecommunications giant to give competitors equal access to its fixed lines. The three proposed divisions are network access, wholesale and retail.

There was speculation the committee would go further, recommending Telecom would have to sell the split-off operations.

However, the committee report says operational separation should not include a requirement that the units be sold off as well.

Communications Minister David Cunliffe has welcomed the report.

"I wish to thank members of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee for their hard work hearing public submissions and considering the detail of the bill,"Cunliffe said.

Telecom chairman Wayne Boyd says the three-way split is more complex.

But he says while the outcome is not ideal the company will do its best to work with it .

"This form of separation is more complicated and costly than we believe is necessary for New Zealand but we will work to implement it as swiftly as reasonably possible," Boyd said.

"With the reorganisation Telecom has been working on since early this year, Telecom has already made progress down the path that is outlined here."

The report is avaliable on the parliament website .