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Commerce Commission wants to retain power to regulate mobile roaming

Monday 9th July 2018

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The Commerce Commission intends to retain the power to regulate national mobile roaming, which helps operators expand coverage beyond their own physical networks.

The regulator has the power to require the country’s mobile network operators, Spark New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, and Two Degrees Mobile, to provide wholesale access to their networks for a period of time to any new network operator. It is required to consider deregulation of services such as national mobile roaming every five years.

"National mobile roaming helped 2Degrees deliver a nationwide service for its customers from day one, in advance of rolling out its own national network infrastructure," Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale said in a statement. "We believe the power to regulate remains an important competition safeguard, especially with 5G networks and potential new entrants on the horizon."

The Commission is asking for submissions on its preliminary view by July 30 and expects to release its final decision on Sept. 4.

Separately, the Commission intends to file court proceedings today against Spark under the Fair Trading Act 1986 in relation to three separate historical operational and billing issues, including an equipment fault in 2015 that affected data billing for a small percentage of customers, incorrect implementation of a ‘welcome credit’ when joining Spark for some fibre broadband customers during 2016, and a billing implementation issue relating to a 30-day notice period when customers left Spark.

"These were all system-based errors caused by genuine mistakes with no malicious intent involved on the part of Spark," the Auckland-based company said in a statement. "In respect of all of these issues, Spark has already applied credits to the accounts of all impacted customers and has made extensive efforts to return all amounts owed to former customers."

The company said it will review the Commerce Commission’s proceedings and has yet to determine the position it will take in response. Potential penalties would be decided by the court however Spark said it doesn't expect the proceedings to have a significant effect on its financial position or profitability, and hasn't changed its guidance for the 2018 financial year.

Spark shares last traded at $3.85 and have slipped 0.1 percent over the past year.

(BusinessDesk)

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