Media Release : Cable cut reminds us of the risk of isolation

 

The news that the Southern Cross Cable suffered its second cut in three months is a timely reminder of our reliance on that network for international connectivity from New Zealand to the rest of the world. Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) CEO, Craig Young said “while we recognise that the Southern Cross cable is well maintained and managed, there will always be the chance of incidents caused by third parties that remind us of our reliance on that single cable system.”

Today’s cut was reported to be caused overnight when a contractor working near the cable in the state of Oregon cut through it with a digger.  Thankfully the design on the system as a figure eight enables the traffic to continue to flow through the other part of the network, but that leaves New Zealand families and businesses at risk of losing connectivity to the world if a second cut happens at the same time.

“We continue to support the development of a second undersea cable system to the continental United States to ensure diversity of supply and to reduce the risk of events like this having major flow on impacts on our economy” said Mr Young.  “This is about securing our ability to communicate with the world and should be seen as a priority by the Government as a key enabler to businesses making the most of the ultra-fast broadband networks being built in New Zealand.”


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Becounted campaign

Yesterday SPARK launched a campaign to remind the general user community that the Commerce Commission process to decide the UCLL/UBA FPP (Final Pricing Principe) price is at a very important point.  Right now the Commission is working through the detail of submissions and cross submissions and are looking to release a further draft determination on the 2nd July 2015.  

The campaign highlights the fact that the draft FPP pricing would lead to an increase in the price that the Retail Service Providers pay to Chorus, although the reduction made in December 2014 as a result of the IPP (Interim Pricing Principle) is greater than the proposed increase in the FPP price.  You can find the campaign's website here

We are not part of the campaign but we support the sentiment of bringing the matter to the attention of users and getting them to look at the issue.  We encourage users to read about the current process and submit as they see fit on their views.  You can see all the formal submissions on the Commerce Commission website here.  We remain absolutely committed to the Commerce Commission process and will continue to participate and represent the views of our user members.

Our position on the draft FPP price

We've consistently said we want the right price to be set - and that is why we have stressed to the Commission that they take the right amount of time to get it as right as possible.  They as the independent regulator must ensure they use the best available information to make fully informed decisions.  And it is a general TUANZ position that we need to be competitive on an international basis and so we will be watching carefully to see if the outcome meets that.

Our position on backdating

We do not believe the commission should backdate any price changes when this leads to a reduction in consumer benefits.

You can read the joint submission made by us with Consumer NZ and Internet NZ here.

Our thoughts on the current Global VPN / Content Issue

TUANZ is a not-for-profit membership association which comprises over 150 members, predominantly large organisations with a strong dependency on telecommunications technology as well as small enterprises.   We also serve a representative group of SMEs and individual members. These small businesses and residential users are also the customers of our large corporate members, who are just as focused on the quality of their customers’ connectivity as their own.   We believe in the value of presenting professional and credible positions on issues that affect our members in line with our principles of encouraging digital uptake in our members businesses and homes through promoting fair and sustainable competition.

Recently four larger media organisations issued legal letters to a number of telecommunication retail service providers (RSPs) asking them to cease and desist in the use and marketing of the Global Mode DNS services.   They went further and demanded that the RSPs state that the use of these DNS services were illegal and should not have been used.  It is not TUANZ’s place to take sides in what is essentially a commercial and legal dispute between the companies, and we will always act impartially with the outcome for users in mind.

While we sympathise with the media organisations in that they believe they have purchased exclusive rights, we also believe that the legal case against Global Mode is unproven and until it is then no RSP should be required to switch off the service and thereby reduce competition for end-users.   If this means a case will be taken and decided in the courts then so be it, all parties will then have clarity around the current legal position.

We support the continued innovation by all New Zealand companies which provide users choice on how to consume content.  However the internet by its nature encourages the breakdown of traditional business models and geographic boundaries and so it is our view that the laws governing this need to be reviewed to ensure they work well for New Zealanders today and in the future.  These include copyright laws, as well as others such as tax laws to ensure that companies providing services in New Zealand are required to play by the same rules.  We would welcome a comprehensive review and would look to represent our members views at the relevant time.

Media Release: Rural Connectivity Symposium

TUANZ and RHAANZ are pleased to formally announce that their jointly hosted Rural Connectivity Symposium will take place in Wellington at the James Cook Hotel on Thursday 28th May 2015. “The aim of the day is to gather representatives of rural users as well as service providers to learn and discuss possible priorities around the recently announced Rural Broadband Initiative #2 (RBI2) and Mobile Blackspots funding by the Government” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ. “We have in the past taken leadership in pushing for improved rural connectivity and this a continuation of that work.”

Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation will be the premier sponsor for the one-day event which will be a mixture of presentations and workshops. Other sponsors announced today include SPARK New Zealand, TRACTA and the Rural Contractors New Zealand. Speakers on the day will include ANZ Economist, Con Williams, Chair of the New Zealand Telehealth Forum, Dr John Garrett, as well a number of speakers from Government and the telecommunications and health industries.

The CE of RHAANZ Michelle Thompson, reiterated that “Bringing together a large number of stakeholders to discuss the options around improved connectivity is a great opportunity for us to provide a strong unified response which reflects the voices of rural users of telecommunications services”

Tickets are limited and registration details can be found on the websites of the two organisations as follows: www.tuanz.org.nz/rural-symposium www.rhaanz.org.nz

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