Competition looks set to hot up in the New Zealand
mobile market, with Telecom New Zealand announcing plans today to
accelerate its wholesaling plans.
The network, which was launched as XT in May, will be available
to wholesale customers by mid-2010, a year earlier than originally
planned. Telecom's announcement had been foreshadowed on Friday
after the company admitted XT sales has been slower than
statement from Telecom today named Digital Island
as a partner, a supplier of telephony services to businesses, but
others are expected to be announced before Christmas.
The move comes as the New Zealand Commerce Commission
today announced that the arrival of third network supplier, 2degrees, into the New Zealand market had boosted competition and lowered prices, with some below the OECD average for the first
The Telecom statement today said Telecom has been trialling
wholesaling mobile technology with Digital Island, which began
offering a Telecom-based CDMA-based product in April 2009. Telecom
wholesale general manager of marketing Nick Clarke said wholesaling
the WCDMA network would give telecommunications retailers much
greater choice of services, and the moving forward of wholesaling
follows feedback from such retailers.
Telecom Wholesale spokesperson Nicole Walker told
ZDNet.com.au that talks were underway with several other
potential providers, but Digital Island was the only one Telecom
could currently identify. She expected others would be announced
The impact of wholesaling would mean more choice and innovation
with services, which should mean lower prices and benefit
consumers. As for Telecom, the impact of wholesaling on it would be hard to
say. "They (retailers) want to be part of this (XT) mobile network.
Hopefully, they will take customers from other networks," Walker
Already Vodafone is
losing sales as competition hots up.
Digital Island general manager Blair Stewart said his business
already supplied several thousand medium-sized firms with telephony
services. Offering the new XT network would be a "shot in the arm"
for his firm, and he expected his client base to double by the end
Existing wholesale ventures like Black & White, which used
the Vodafone network, were aimed at consumers, while Digital Island
offerings would target business. Stewart confirmed a soft-launch
would start in April on the XT network, with a full-launch by
"Bundling services is a strong part of a telco offering," he
told ZDNet.com.au. "We can bundle this with fixed voice data." Stewart said Digital Island's business model allows pricing 20 per cent lower than the mainstream competitors. He expects rival suppliers to also offer services from Telecom's
WCDMA network but says this "can only be good for customers".
Indeed, the Commerce Commission's Market Monitoring Report,
released today (PDF), noted the impact of added competition
from third network 2degrees.
Previously, New Zealand came bottom of the OECD ranking of 30 on
affordable prepay mobile plans, but
it has since risen to 26th, in the six months ending 30 June.
Commentary for the months after said that following the arrival
of 2degrees in August, for the first time in the Commission's
analysis, New Zealand customers can access prepay mobile prices
for less than the OECD average.
Prepay plans were important to New Zealanders as two-thirds of
mobile users use them, said Telecommunications Commissioner Ross
The building of technologically compatible mobile networks was
also making it easier for users to switch between rival networks
without changing phones. August and September saw more than triple
the usual number switching to another network and taking their
number with them.
The Commerce Commission also noted the take-up of broadband
services grew 14 per cent over the year, with pricing similar to that of