Separation angst over for Telecom

, posted: 29-Nov-2006 07:32

TelecomThe wait is over: yesterday, the Select Committee reported the Telecommunications Amendment Bill back to Parliament and there was an almost palpable sigh of relief from Telecom HQ. While it's obvious that the cross-party committee didn't buy into Gattung's cajoling and probably sharpened the terms of regulation in response to her breath-taking arrogance, the outcome could've been a lot worse for Telecom.

As it is, the BT-style operational and accounting separation isn't going to hurt Telecom much. The business units can still each be owned by the same company and be governed by the same board. There was talk about a real split up for a while - structural separation - but in all likelihood, Telecom would've had to do more than Gattung's two-finger gesturing in the government's face for that to happen.

Chopping up Telecom in three with separate management and owners would have taken years; operational separation will be ready next year. In fact, talking to various Telecom people, it seems almost done already, so I can only assume that Telecom knew what was coming and adjusted its structure accordingly.

The new regulation isn't yet finalised of course. Cunliffe's bill with the Select Committee's suggestions has to go through the somewhat arcane system of readings in Parliament and get the sign-off from the Governor-General before it'll go into law.

Unless National has a drastic change of mind, the bill should pass the readings uncontested. Rodney Hide may take this as an opportunity for some bogus grand-standing about property rights; that is his wont as the leader of a minority party with views that are largely ignored by the electorate in general.

We'll see next year if the new regulation is good enough to push telecommunications off the social agenda into the business-as-usual area. That's really what has to happen, and I hope Telecom sees it like that too. We just can't afford to hold out much longer for communications technology that people in other countries take for granted.

Other related posts:
The problem with VDSL2, part 2
The problem with VDSL2
The mysterious Dynamic Line Management on VDSL2

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