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Additions to Telecommunications Bill proposed

17 Feb 2011

A Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) with legislative changes needed to the UFB and RBI projects, as well as the changes that would apply if Telecom was to structurally separate, will be discussed later today.

The Telecom-specific changes would only come into effect should an agreement with Telecom be made for the UFB Initiative.

Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Steven Joyce, stressed that no decision has yet been made on what role, if any, Telecom will have in the UFB.

At the end of January Telecom said that it needed more time to separate.

“Tabling of the SOP at the Select Committee stage provides industry and customer groups with an important opportunity to input into the regulatory changes associated with any potential Telecom separation,” said Joyce.

“It is also important that government is clear about the regulatory environment proposed after any de-merger, so that Telecom shareholders could make an informed judgment on whether to de-merge or not should that proposal proceed.

Last year the government asked for feedback on the regulatory issues that would arise if Telecom was to separate.

“The proposed amendments have been designed to preserve protections for end-users and competitors, reduce unnecessary costs and complexities, and ensure Telecom is neither unduly advantaged nor disadvantaged by de-merging in areas such as tax and land access,” Joyce added.

Crown Fibre Holdings says that discussions with a number of parties are proceeding well including Enable Networks for Christchurch and Rangiora, Flute for Dunedin, as well as Telecom.

“Discussions are also underway with other UFB shortlisted parties,” said Joyce. “This SOP does not inhibit Crown Fibre Holdings from prioritising negotiations with additional parties with whom it is in active discussions.”

Finally Joyce said that negotiations are still “wide open” but that he hopes to see good progress over the coming weeks.

Telecom is expected to issue a media statement later this morning.