Briefly: Telecomms Levy; Chorus AGM; IRD renews Unisys

The Commerce Commission released its first estimate of the amount carriers will each pay for their share of the 2012-13 Telecommunications Development Levy. The $50 million levy is used to pay for public good telecommunications projects including services for the deaf, 111 emergency services and rural broadband.

Carriers earning more than $10 million a year from operating public telecommunications networks contribute roughly 1 percent of revenue towards the levy. In the past Telecom NZ and Vodafone have paid most. More recently Chorus has been added to the list. Between them the big three pay 90 percent of the total with the rest coming from another 19 companies.

The Commerce Commission publishes what it calls a draft liability allocation determination. When this is published there’s usually some haggling over details in a submissions process. That’s happening now and a  final decision is expected on December 20.

  • Chorus chairwoman Sue Sheldon used the annual meeting in Wellington to criticise the Commerce Commission cutting copper access prices saying it undermines the government-sponsored UFB project. She says: “Investors now attach a regulatory risk premium to Chorus and this has implications for our cost of capital”. She says this means investors now see New Zealand telecommunications as un-investable.
  • Unisys New Zealand renewed a six-year mainframe service contract with Inland Revenue. Neither party is saying how much the deal is worth, but the IRD says it will not need any new money from government. IRD also said any decision about replacing the mainframe will be taken as part of its transformation programme. Last year the IRD warned that ageing technology put its ability to collect tax at risk. It said it would need to spend as much as $1.5 billion over 10 years on a replacement.
  • Te Miro in the Waikato is now connected to the government’s rural broadband network. Vodafone says it switched on its newly built 25m lattice tower giving coverage to 400 households. Vodafone says the last tower planned for Waipa District under the RBI, Maihiihi, will provide mobile coverage and wireless broadband for an extra 110 homes and businesses.  Vodafone has also upgraded all six of its existing sites around Waipa District, including Karapiro, Cambridge, Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, Mystery Creek and Lake Karapiro.
  • BusinessDesk reports TradeMe told shareholders at its AGM it is set to 40 new tech workers to work on site upgrades. TradeMe told shareholders to expect subdued growth in the coming year.
  • Cloud specialist GreenButton has a new partnership with Verbatim Reporting which it says will help courts, law enforcement agencies and law firms index audio and video of proceedings.
  • Not keying bank transaction data into accounts systems thanks to automatic bank feeds is worth 10 hours a month or an average of $458 dollars per company says MYOB.