Telecom NZ, Vodafone settle out of court

Summary:Telecom NZ and Vodafone today said they had reached an agreement to resolve interference issues that prompted Vodafone to go to the High Court to stop Telecom NZ launching its new mobile WCDMA network.

Telecom NZ and Vodafone today said they had reached an agreement to resolve interference issues that prompted Vodafone to go to the High Court to stop Telecom NZ launching its new mobile WCDMA network.

It should never have gone to court

Telecom NZ spokesperson

Both parties assembled at New Zealand's High Court for a day of hearings yesterday. High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning was expected to deliver his ruling on the injunction at noon today until the companies came out with their surprise announcement.

Telecom said it had agreed to install filters to deal with the interference Vodafone claimed had degraded service for its customers in the 900MHz GSM and UMTS bands. Some of Telecom's base stations will also be powered down, either partially or completely.

Telecom NZ's launch of its new network, scheduled for 13 May, will also be pushed back "approximately two weeks", according to a spokesperson for the company, although he said the company would still be kicking off the network on 13 May "with a hell of a party".

The spokesperson said that the details of the agreement were "commercially sensitive" and wouldn't reveal what the deal cost Telecom, but added that it was a "shared commitment" between the two companies.

Vodafone had earlier indicated that it was open to cost-sharing on the filters, but that Telecom had rejected this offer.

Asked if Telecom lost the case and had walked into a Vodafone trap, the spokesperson said "absolutely not".

While Telecom was pleased the issue has been resolved, it was also disappointed that Vodafone went ahead and applied for an injunction. "It should never have gone to court," the spokesperson said, adding that the telco preferred resolving issues via negotiation.

Vodafone claimed in the High Court that Telecom NZ had known about the interference issues since November last year, and that "the levels experienced prevents [it] from being able to operate a functioning commercial 900MHz network".

Telecom on the other hand claimed that its network emissions were lawful within the terms of the spectrum management rights, as handed out by the country's Ministry of Economic Development.

Telecom NZ CEO Paul Reynolds said his company would "vigorously resist the request for an injunction", as the timing for it was inappropriate and designed to disrupt the launch of the telco's new network.

During the hearing, Telecom NZ said it had already worked with the third mobile entrant NZ Communications to filter out interference caused by its new 3G network. Vodafone also admitted in court that its new masthead amplifiers were over-sensitive to interference. It agreed to swap out 24 new amplifiers for an older model that was less prone to pick up interference.

Topics: Telcos, Mobility, New Zealand

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