Interview: What’s on the new NZ telco commissioner’s agenda

Tristan Gilbertson explains his priorities in how New Zealand’s world-leading telecommunications regulatory landscape evolves.

tristan gilbertson
New Zealand Commerce Commission

Tristan Gilbertson was enjoying a morning cup of coffee in Jamaica when he read an online article that changed his life. The New Zealand telecommunications commissioner role was about to become vacant. He decided to apply.

Gilbertson had spent the previous six years in legal and regulatory roles at Digicel, the privately owned mobile telco spread across 32 markets in Asia-Pacific, Central America, and the Caribbean. For three of those years, he had been group general counsel, travelling constantly to Singapore, Jamaica, and Dublin (where Digicel owner Denis O’Brien lives). “We achieved some fantastic things in that time, so I was at a point where I was asking myself, ‘What next?’”

Gilbertson’s career: competitor, incumbent, competitor, regulator

In Gilbertson’s 27-year legal career, he has been on both sides of the telco divide: as part of the legal team when BellSouth came into New Zealand (its mobile network was later bought by Vodafone), taking on the role of general counsel at Telecom (now Chorus and Spark) during the Operational Separation years, and heading up the legal function at Digicel.

One role beckoned, he tells Computerworld New Zealand: the regulator.

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