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Improving rural telecommunications

Saturday 26 July 2008, 2:24AM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Federated Farmers telecommunications spokesman Donald Aubrey welcomes the release earlier today of a report that recommends a range of reforms to the Telecommunications Service Obligation.


The obligation, once known as the Kiwi Share Obligation, is the primary funding mechanism for ensuring all New Zealanders can enjoy free local calling, as well as the expansion of internet access into rural areas.


The Federation supports the report’s recommendations that the obligation doesn’t limit its funding for any one technology as technology has advanced far faster than regulation.


“The service obligation agreement was set in stone back in the early 1990s, we can’t read the words now because of the moss,” said Mr Aubrey.


Federated Farmers also supports the report’s recommendation for an element of contestability into how the obligation is delivered around the country.


“The days of having just one telecommunications provider are long gone. Today we have a number of credible operators in the New Zealand market. Opening up the service obligation to competitive tender should bring the benefits of efficiencies and cost reduction that the competitive market has brought to other areas,” Mr Aubrey said.


The Federation looks forward to working with other parties to support the improvement of telecommunications in rural areas.