The Commerce Commission wants to continue regulating mobile
roaming. At present it can make Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees
give a new network owner wholesale access. This is part of
the Telecommunications Act.
The Act also says the
Commission faces a review of its responsibilities every five
Wholesale access to existing networks helps a new
network get a foothold in the market. Something similar
happened when 2degrees started and customers could roam on
Vodafone’s network. At the time 2degrees only had coverage
in four centres.
Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale
said in a press release:
roaming helped 2degrees deliver a nationwide service for its
customers from day one, in advance of rolling out its own
national network infrastructure. We believe the power to
regulate remains an important competition safeguard,
especially with 5G networks and potential new entrants on
The key phrase in that quote is
“potential new entrants“.
After all there is
little prospect of a new mobile carrier entering a saturated
market. Yet that doesn’t mean there isn’t a potential new
entrant looking to enter the cellular market.
be Malcolm Dick’s Blue Reach. The Commerce Commission
mentions this company in its review of the
The allocation of 5G spectrum may
influence mobile competition:
The allocation provides a
potential opportunity for a new entrant to purchase
spectrum. A new mobile provider will almost certainly
require a NR arrangement while it rolls out. We note that
Blue Reach Services has entered as a fourth provider and has
publically stated intentions to roll-out
Dick is a wealthy man who has succeeded
in telecommunications before. He is a co-founder of CallPlus
and an investor in the Hawaiki
Cable network. The latter is set to start operating next
His Blue Reach project has
been public for a couple of years. Early
on Dick described Blue Reach as a 5G wholesaler. The
idea is that it will offer fixed wireless broadband to
retail service providers. In some ways it is like the failed
Woosh Wireless operation. That company was ahead of its
At the time of writing carriers around the world are
building the first 5G
networks. Both Spark and Vodafone have trials here in
New Zealand. The technology still hasn’t settled. More to
the point, the extra spectrum needed to make it work is not
ready in New Zealand. We can expect that to happen over the
next 12 months.
Blue Reach plans a service resembling
fixed wireless broadband. Both Spark and Vodafone sell a
RBI wireless product to rural customers. So do wisps
(wireless service providers). Presumably the wisps are among
the retailer Dick hopes will buy his services.
Commerce Commission’s review hints that we are about to see
more competition. Bring it on.
The Commerce Commission has
called for submissions on the issue to before July 30. It
expects to release a final decision on September 4.
Potential entrant means regulator wants to
keep mobile roaming power was first posted at
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