Plan B Group gets a yellow card from the Commerce Commission

Plan B Group gets a yellow card from the Commerce Commission

Plan B’s failure to provide information did not delay the final levy

Tristan Gilbertson (Telecommunications Commissioner)

Tristan Gilbertson (Telecommunications Commissioner)

Credit: Supplied

The Commerce Commission has warned ICT and  telecommunications company Plan B Group over its failure to provide information needed to calculate the 2019/20 Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL).

Plan B was liable to pay the levy for the first time in 2019/20 but failed to provide specified financial information and an assurance or audit report within the required timeframe, the commission said.

The commission considered the failure was made "without reasonable excuse" and was therefore subject to enforcement action.

At the top end, if taken to the High Court, this could lead to a fine of up to $300,000.

In December last year, the commission finalised its levies for 2020 and Plan B's was assessed at $13,632 of $5.7 million in qualifying revenue.

The government uses the annual levy to pay for telecommunications infrastructure including the relay service for the deaf and hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas, and improvements to the 111 emergency service.

“It is important that parties liable to pay the levy, especially those new to the scheme, actively take steps to understand their TDL obligations as set out in the Telecommunications Act and ensure they comply," said telecommunications commissioner Tristan Gilbertson. 

"We will be strengthening our messaging to parties facing TDL liability for the first time, to help make sure that TDL obligations are understood, but this will come with expectations for full compliance and a more robust enforcement response to any breaches."

The commission acknowledged that this was the first year Plan B was liable to pay the levy and had reporting obligations under the Act. 

Further, Plan B’s failure to provide information did not delay the final levy and any commercial gain it initially received by not complying was reversed when Plan B provided it three months after the due date.

The commission said it would take this warning into account if Plan B engages in the same or similar conduct in the future.

Since 2011, the commission is required to allocate the $10 million levy proportionately among qualifying telecommunications providers.

Plan B has been building scale in recent years. It bought internet service provider ICONZ in 2016 after acquiring voice, video and data plyer Turnstone the year before.

More recently is bought Vodafone NZ's Auckland customer datacentre.

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