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ISOCNZ Concerned for Future of KiwiShare

Media Release : July 22 1999


ISOCNZ is deeply concerned about the future of Telecom's Kiwi Share obligation after a meeting between the Hon Sir William Birch, the Kiwi Shareholder, and representatives of the Internet Society of New Zealand yesterday.

The meeting with the Minister came in response to ISOCNZ's call for the Minister to rule that residential data calls do form part of the Kiwi Share agreement. "Although Sir William indicated that the government 'has no intention of dismantling the KiwiShare agreement' his clear position was that the free local calling guarantee distorted the market," said Internet Society Chair Jim Higgins.

"We gained the impression that the government is sympathetic to Telecom's position that accessing the Internet from a home telephone is not covered by the free calling guarantee under Kiwi Share. ISOCNZ is concerned that if this is accepted, the next argument will be that Telecom does not have the resources to improve the infrastructure without introducing a two tier network - a lower priority free network and a higher priority pay per call network," said Higgins.

"The Minister was at some pains to assure us that the government had no intention of abandoning the Kiwi Share agreement at the moment, and that our meeting was one of many they were holding to seek input into the demands for a clear ruling on the status of residential data calls under Kiwi Share", said Executive Director Sue Leader.

"We asked the Minster for three things should he choose to rule against data calls being part of Kiwi Share - a guarantee that the same two tiered system will not be applied to the voice network, a guarantee that the new 0867 access will remain free, and an assurance that Telecom will not again use it's near monopoly position to make unilateral decisions which have significant impact upon broad sectors of the community," she said.

"Much of the ill-feeling caused by introduction of the 0867 numbers could have been avoided had Telecom taken the time to consult with the industry and other stakeholders. In some areas there could have been constructive improvements suggested, allowing a co-operative approach to the introduction of 0867 - a development which is not without some positive aspects," she concluded.

The Internet Society's July 2 letter asking that the Minister make a ruling that the Kiwi Share agreement included residential internet calls was a result of an extensive research and consultation process conducted by ISOCNZ with it's membership and industry stakeholders on the 0867 and Internet access charging changes. The process led to a meeting with Telecom on June 25 and the resulting written replies from Telecom were taken back to the membership and a poll conducted.

"Over 80% of member's responses were that data calls form part of the Kiwi Shareagreement, and that was the basis upon which we approached the Minister for a ruling" Higgins said. "We provided the Minister with the results of our research, including survey responses which are indicative of widespread use of the residential telephone system for data calls prior to the signing of the Kiwi Share agreement in September of 1990. Clearly, no-one could have predicted the level of participation on the Internet by home users, but our findings establish that Telecom cannot justifiably claim that data calls from home telephones were not part of 'ordinary telephone services'," he concluded.


© 1999 The Internet Society of New Zealand

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