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Vocus slams ComCom mobile review as “disgraceful”

20 May 2019

Vocus has released a statement saying the company’s leadership is “staggered” that the Commerce Commission considers the wholesale mobile market as healthy and that evidence of competition exists with MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators).

“We’ve been selling mobile plans through an MVNO for more than a decade now and have a grand total of 26,000 customers - and we are the largest MVNO in the country,” Vocus New Zealand chief executive Mark Callander says.

“We were expecting the Commission to realise that mobile operators have been paying mere lip service to mobile competition and to propose measures to increase competition and benefit New Zealand consumers. Today’s preliminary findings that the MVNO market is operating as it should is disgraceful.”

Callander says the fact that 99% of the almost 5.5 million mobile connections in New Zealand are sold by three mobile giants is clear evidence that MVNOs aren’t working in New Zealand, and that Vocus presented this strongly to the Commission.

“Quite frankly they have missed the mark by a long, long way here,” Callander says.

Callander adds that internationally, consumers are well served by MVNOs providers, which drive innovation, new products and competition. He compared this to the NZ broadband market, where there are more than 80 ISPs doing great things.

In Australia, the ACCC recently rejected the merger of Vodafone and TPG citing that the entry of a fourth mobile operator would drive improved competition and benefit consumers.  

The Commission has formed the view that there is no evidence to support a fourth MNO in the market and the market structure is working well from an MVNO perspective. 

The Vocus statement claims that “in an emerging 5G world, this decision will have a crippling effect as the mobile operators gain an unfair advantage and an alternative network to replace fixed line services.”

Vocus claims that the Commerce Commission needs to regulate MVNO services so that MVNOs have a real opportunity to establish, gain scale and become competitive and a framework for regulation of mobile services needs to be established; and in the absence of regulation, any change in MVNO service provision is unlikely to happen in the next 5 to 10 years, denying New Zealand’s mobile customers the innovation and price advantages associated with a competitive market.

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