The Commerce Commission will keep regulating three wholesale telecommunications services in order to promote competition and protect consumers, it announced today.
Number portability, interconnection with a fixed public switched telephone network (PSTN), and mobile co-location will remain regulated, said telecommunications commissioner Tristan Gilbertson
“After consulting with the sector, and interested parties, our view is that these services continue to play an important role in the market and should remain regulated for now,” Gilbertson said.
Number portability allowed consumers to keep their existing mobile or landline number when switching to a different service provider.
“It’s easy to see how people being able to keep their number if they choose to switch between providers drives competition for the benefit of consumers," Gilbertson said.
“Likewise, we have decided to continue regulating mobile co-location.
"This is important for driving competition because it allows operators to share mobile network transmission sites and related equipment with competitors, lowering the cost of providing services throughout the country compared to self-providing infrastructure from the ground up.”
Gilbertson said fixed PSTN interconnection was used to enable consumers on different fixed networks to make calls to each other.
However, the significance of this service is diminishing as consumers move to newer technologies, such as those delivered over fibre and wireless networks.
Spark, for instance, had started a process to decommission its PSTN in response to diminishing demand.
However, because PSTN services remained important in many parts of the country, the commission decided it needed to continue regulating this service for the time being.
Gilbertson said each of the services was used by retail service providers to supply the most common retail telecommunications services to consumers.
“As markets evolve, new retail services are developed and wholesale service providers can face increased competition to an extent that it may no longer be necessary to mandate access, but we are not yet at this point for these particular services,” he said.
Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act 2001 required the commission to consider at five-yearly intervals whether there were reasonable grounds for deregulating specified wholesale services.
“In submissions on this draft decision, stakeholders largely agreed that the wholesale services under review should remain regulated for now,” Gilbertson said.