According to a release from the Federated Farmers, both Vodafone and Telecom (who have a joint RBI bid on the table) have pulled out of today’s Federated Farmers rural broadband solutions meeting.
“While Telecom and Vodafone may cite ‘negotiations with the MED’, it’s an argument that holds no water with the MED. It’s an excuse and a poor one at that,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers Telecommunications spokesperson.
Federated Farmers says it spoken to the MED, who had no issue with either Vodafone or Telecom participating in the talks. “In fact they actively encouraged it,” said Aubrey.
“Vodafone and Telecom’s refusal to engage with Federated Farmers and the 1.1 million Kiwis deemed rural is not an auspicious start for the $300 million RBI.”
The group has asked the question if Telecom and Vodafone’s actions are a lesson as to what rural New Zealand may expect from them in the future.
“I find it wholly unsatisfactory given Minister Joyce encouraged other players to engage with Vodafone and Telecom. That’s what today was aiming to facilitate, but there seems to be a worrying ‘we won, you lost, get over it’ attitude still prevalent,” Aubrey continued.
“Federated Farmers is hopeful a leopard could change its spots. Less charitable commentators could well say this is business as usual from the duopoly. Will this be good for our hardworking rural people?
“As for the MED and Minister Joyce, I just hope they note Vodafone and Telecom’s intransigence,” Aubrey’s statement concluded.
We’ve contacted both Vodafone and Telecom for a statement.
Update: Vodafone was the quickest to respond to us, insisting that it's committed to the Federated Farmers and is interested in the outcome of today's talks.