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Industry's Orcon-2degrees merger fears

It’s not enough to halt the merger, but submissions to the Commerce Commission point out regulatory challenges that may emerge after an Orcon-2degrees merger.

Industry voices Orcon-2degrees merger fears

Wispa warns a proposed merger between Orcon and 2degrees will “negatively affect its members”. The organisation representing 33 wireless internet service providers says the deal is “unlikely to result in significantly greater competition”.

These views are expressed in the Wispa’s Commerce Commission submission. The telecommunications watchdog is collecting industry views as it prepares to decide whether the merger can go ahead. Evidence of a material reduction in market competition would put the merger in jeopardy.

Wispa makes this point. It says because both players are active in the wholesale internet services market, the merger will reduce choice for all smaller ISPs looking for handover services.

Mobile virtual network operator

The organisation wants a condition placed on the merger that would see the company work with retailers to develop a workable MVNO model.

That’s not going to happen. While overseas completion rules allow regulators to impose conditions before approving mergers, New Zealand’s rules do not allow this.

Not everything in Wispa’s submission is negative. The organisation says there are members who believe a stronger third player will increase competition in retail phone services.

Chorus has open access worries

In its submission Chorus says after a merger there would be three large vertically integrated telcos able to provide fixed wireless broadband.

These companies would account for more than 80 per cent of the retail broadband market and that change would create challenges for the open access wholesale market.

The network company does not argue against the merger taking place, but does want the regulator to consider taking steps to protect consumers interests.

It points out today’s regulatory framework is based on open access to fixed-line networks and that could be undermined by the rise of vertically integrated fixed and mobile operators.

New AWS Local Zone for Auckland

The local cloud infrastructure build continues to expand with AWS announced a new Local Zone in Auckland. It is due to open in 2024. The company says it has invested NZ$7.5 billion in the infrastructure.

Local Zone is the name AWS uses when it places cloud edge services close to large population centres. The key is that by being near, it means customers can use applications that need low latency.

AWS names real-time gaming, media and entertainment content creation as applications that might use a Local Zone.

2degrees rewards customers for turning off phone

Real Mode is a promotion from 2degrees that encourages users to balance their online and offline lives. It includes a web app and a prize draw, where customers get a draw entry for 15 minutes their phone is off.

CEO Mark Aue says the aim is to help customers “switch off their phone and switch on to other people”. There’s evidence that spending time away from being in constant touch helps make people happier.

Orcon brands shine at NZ Compare Awards

Three Orcon brands were among the winners at this year’s NZ Compare Awards. Orcon was named as the Best Fibre Broadband Provider and it won the Making a Difference award. The company’s Slingshot brand won the People’s Choice award.

Now took out prize for the Broadband Provider of the Year and the Best Customer Support. Wireless Nation was named as the Best Wireless Service Provider while 2degrees took out the Best Value Broadband Provider award.

Lightwire came top in the Best Rural Broadband Provider category and Sky won the prize for Best Bundled Plan. Vodafone was named as having the Best Digital Innovation.

Vodafone summer builds

Vodafone reports it completed six new company owned mobile sites in December. It upgraded 18 existing sites and added 22 new Rural Connectivity Group sites during the month. In January it upgraded six sites and added two more RCG towers.

The telco says it saw traffic double at sites in some holiday hotspots. It named The Coromandel as a busy area.

In other news…

CommsDay reports Vodafone is preparing to spin out its tower infrastructure. The telco has yet to make a final decision but says the process is at ‘an advanced stage’. The report says CEO Jason Paris does not view passive infrastructure as a driver of competitive advantage.

International internet bandwidth rose by 29 per cent in 2021 says Telegeography in its 2022 State of the Network report. That’s big, but the previous year saw a surge of 34 per cent, which Telegeography puts down to the Covid pandemic.

David Clark, the digital economy and communications minister has released a draft industry transformation plan. He says the industry contributed $6.6 billion to the economy in 2019.

Over the summer the government agreed a radio spectrum deal with Māori interests. The agreement gives 20 per cent of commercial spectrum to Māori and establishes a $75 million development fund. It aims to build Māori capability in spectrum related industries.

The Download 2.0 is a free weekly wrap up of New Zealand telecommunications news stories published every Friday.