telecommunications, posted: 30-Mar-2007 10:46
Number portability will be extremely useful for businesses especially. From next week, if you have a business, it'll be much easier to shop around for a telecommunications provider since you don't have to worry about having to change stationery and notify customers et al about your new numbers.
Communications Minister David Cunliffe says he's pleased to see number portability coming into effect but notes that it was a long time coming. I agree: we should've had it years ago.
It applies to both landlines and mobiles, as Cunliffe's office states:
Local number portability will let fixed (landline) customers change service provider but keep the same telephone number within a local calling area.
Cellular number portability will let a mobile (cellular) customer change provider and keep the same mobile number, including the same cellular network access code.
Local and cellular telephone number portability are both regulated services under the Telecommunications Act 2001. The regulations allow for the Commerce Commission to determine all or some of the terms on which an access provider must supply the service to an access seeker.
What surprises me though is that despite the long gestation, few providers have seized the opportunity. Earlier this year, I spoke to Vodafone who said they'd have the At Home/Zu Hause fixed-line replacement service going by April, to take advantage of number portability.
That's not the case: there's only a trial starting up in April, using a small GSM terminal for voice for a small area in Auckland. It'll cost $24.95 a month and give customers free local calling and twenty national minutes as well. Not sure what the overseas rates will be yet, and there's no data bundle at this stage. That's for later when Vodafone introduces its combo device that does both voice and HSDPA (and possibly 7.2Mbit/s HSPA).
If I ran Vodafone, I'd have pulled out all stops to have At Home ready on April 1 to put a massive dent in Telecom's customer numbers. There's not much Telecom can do to combat At Home. Telecom can't lower the line rental very easily, after having made all kinds of justifications to put it up with the maximum amount allowed by law this year. Also, Telecom wholesales a large number of lines to TelstraClear. Lowering that cost would make TelstraClear's service more attractive, and threaten to cannibalise Telecom's business as well.
Telecom is likely to respond with a super-bundle deal of some kind, with a mobile thrown in for landline users, and maybe broadband too. That is, if Telecom is allowed to by the regulator, as such a bundle could be seen as unfairly leveraging its monopoly.
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