It’s membership renewal time here at TUANZ and worth reiterating the various things TUANZ does. I know you see me on the TV (sorry about that – the camera adds ten pounds you know), on the radio ruining your drive home or taking up column inches in the paper, but TUANZ is more than just me commenting on various issues.

TUANZ has three main roles. We lobby, we represent and we provide a networking forum for members.

Lobbying stems from our policy work and our approach is always the same – is this in the best interests of competition and the users. From that simple basis we form views on everything from the copper tax to mobile termination rates, from the TSO to submarine cables. Will it increase competition? Is it good for end users?

Currently we have three main issues we’re driving. Competition, access to better broadband and pricing.

Competition is obvious – if we have a competitive market then we avoid the excess fat of the cosy duopoly or monopoly situations. If we all have better access to broadband then we can all take part in the digital economy, and build billion dollar businesses from the bach. If prices are more reasonable, more customers can take up more services and do more with the network that’s there.

On top of that, we also represent users at various fora. We have a seat on the TCF board, making sure that the telcos don’t forget about customers whenever they meet to decide on new codes of practice. We turn up to various TCF working parties, such as the recent broadband product disclosure code, to influence the direction such codes take before they are set in stone.

We have a seat on the Numbering Administration Deed council, which oversees the basic numbering plan that governs the telco market.  Hopefully we can add value to the process and again remind the telcos that are involved that ultimately customers will need to buy their services so it probably pays to think about that up front.

We are also one of the consumer representatives, along with Consumer, on the Telco Dispute Resolution Service council. There we provide a balance to the needsof the telcos and ISPs in the tricky area of customer service, making sure that the process works for both telco and consumer alike.

Finally we represent New Zealand at the International Telecommunications UsersGroup (INTUG) board level. There we work with our sister organisations from around the world to influence regulators, help set policy and drive the agenda on behalf ofour members. As part of that work we regularly host an industry roundtable workshop at APEC’s twice annual telecommunications conference.

Then there’s the networking side of things and our bi-monthly TUANZ After Five series. Here we hope to bring you together to network, catch up with old friends and to hear from someone interesting from within the industry. We’ve had speakers from vendors, telcos, policy makers and the regulator and numerous other industry bodies speak to members on topics ranging from economic development opportunities, rural broadband programmes, international comparisons, the future direction of telecommunications itself and the ever present “next generation” of technologies.

We do all of this work on behalf of telecommunication users, but we couldn’t do anyof it without your support. Your membership fees are the main source of revenue we have and without you, we couldn’t be as effective as we are.

And we are effective. Last year we managed to rebuff the government’s attempts to overrule the Commerce Commission and raise the price of broadband services. We’ve driven the fibre to the home agenda and helped guide previous governments to build a regulatory regime specifically for telecommunications. We’ve seen increased competition and better products and services come to market as a result and that brings us back to what makes TUANZ what it is – the users themselves.

If you’re not a TUANZ member check out our JOIN TUANZ page and if you’ve got any questions, let me know.