The mobile termination rates decision

Labour yesterday announced a formal position on mobile termination rates:

The Government should put consumers first and regulate mobile termination rates to keep call costs down, Labour spokesperson for communications and IT Clare Curran said today.

“High mobile termination rates are a barrier to entry for new players in the market, which leads to less competition and higher prices,” Clare Curran said.

“While Vodafone and Telecom have now offered to lower termination rates by around 80 per cent, it still does not go far enough to reduce the major issues for new entrants.

I think it is a good thing that Labour have learnt from their mistakes, when they did a deal with the two telcos in 2007, rather than accept the advice to regulate.

Slightly amused that their formal policy stance comes just days after Clare had a whack at Matthew Hooton for implying Labour support the Drop the Rate, Mate campaign.

The Drop the Rate, Mate campaign also yesterday released their submission to the Minister, including some research done by Curia of 400 mobile phone users. Key findings were:

  • Only 18% of respondents wanted the Government to accept the binding promises of Telecom and Vodafone, while 78% wanted the Government to regulate
  • 79% agreed that Telecom and Vodafone are overcharging New Zealanders
  • 85% agreed with the proposition that it should cost the same to call someone on a different network, as to call someone on your own network


Chris Barton in the Herald is not shy with his opinion of what the Government should do:

So far, you have to say, Joyce has played with an exceedingly straight bat. But it won’t be easy negotiating the quagmire of a split recommendation by Commerce Commissioners on mobile termination rates. Two argue for putting heads in the sand while one voice of reason says enough is enough – Vodafone and Telecom have had more than enough time to sort this out and have, time and again, shown they can’t be trusted.

Joyce will be familiar with the sordid last-minute deal stitched together between new mobile entrant 2degrees and Vodafone last year. While the public isn’t allowed to know about this venality, anyone who cares to can find it online (search under “NZ Cellphone racket”). It shows that Vodafone will move if it has a gun to its head. Joyce will also be familiar with and – two campaigning websites where the public is helping the minister make up his mind.

Go there at once.

What fed-up consumers want minister, is Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry. For some of us, it’s so bad, we don’t just want Clint to pull out his .44 Magnum and ask whether the punk feels lucky. With Telecom and Vodafone, we want him to pull the trigger.

The challenge for the Minister, is how quickly can a regulated price be established, if he chooses to regulate. The undertakings would take place more quickly. However the likely regulated price would see prices by 2011 drop further, and remain lower.