Telcos want level playing field for new GCSB rules

Last updated 07:49 20/06/2013

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Telecom has lifted the lid on the big impact overseas-operated "over the top" communications providers are having on its business.

It did so in its bid to convince the Government not to single out traditional telcos for potentially expensive GCSB compliance costs.

The company said in a submission to Parliament's law and order select committee that it estimated that on any one day 110,000 of its mobile customers used Skype for Mobile and rival Israeli service Viber to make calls over its mobile network.

Last month 373,000 of its mobile customers used instant messaging services such as Apple's iMessage or Facebook messenger.

Overall, worldwide, about a third of international calling minutes were being carried by Skype, it said.

The Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill being considered by the select committee would compel network operators such as Telecom to provide technical assistance to the GCSB in its intelligence-gathering.

However, "over the top" service providers such as Skype would not automatically face the same requirement.

Telecom said the Government needed to change the bill to ensure "a level playing field". The Crown should also pick up half the cost "where the Government puts a network operator to extra expense to go above and beyond what the operator considers is secure".

Kim Dotcom's Mega said last week in its submission that "cloud" communication companies such as its own should not be covered by the bill.

Mega chief executive Vikram Kumar said the bill's discretionary powers would make other operators wary of coming to New Zealand. Fairfax NZ

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