07 Apr 2011
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Consumers don't trust govt's UFB bill

Nearly three-quarters of New Zealanders polled by TelstraClear about the government’s proposed ultra-fast broadband (UFB) roll-out want the Commerce Commission retained as a watchdog over prices and services.

TelstraClear CEO Allan Freeth said New Zealander consumers don’t believe the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will protect their interests in terms of competitive and fairly-priced broadband.

The nationwide, online survey of 500 Kiwis shows 73% are against current government plans to ban the commission from overseeing telecommunications services and prices until late 2019.

"An overwhelming majority, at 73%, believe the Commerce Commission should be allowed to regulate prices where necessary to protect consumers,” said Dr Freeth.

The proposal to remove Commerce Commission oversight would give successful fibre company bidders an unprecedented 10-year holiday from regulation.

"It will create a monopoly scenario providing fibre companies with the incentive to overcharge and underperform. We have been here before,” said Freeth.

Over half those questioned said they were concerned about the Christchurch earthquake, and supported a delay to the UFB rollout, to provide further support to the area. 

Freeth said the results show it’s time the government looked again at the bill to ensure consumer interests and taxpayers’ $1.5b contribution are being protected. 

He called on Comms Minister Steven Joyce to "join us in a sincere dialogue about these issues and concerns”.

"Clearly, consumers know what they want, and have already worked through the trade-offs,” Freeth added. "Maybe it’s time for this government to begin listening, and seek ways of accommodating the well-founded concerns and issues of all stakeholders.”

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