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Fibre to Provide Multi-Billion Dollar Econ Boost

Media statement
21 October 2009

New Zealand’s first globally competitive communications network is a step closer following today’s release of the Government’s ‘Invitation to Participate’ in its ultra-fast fibre broadband initiative.

New Zealand Regional Fibre Group executive member and Enable Networks chief executive Steve Fuller, believes New Zealand towns and cities will be multi-million dollar benefactors from the Government directed delivery of fibre throughout the country.

He says members of the NZRFG will be entering the bid process from which the Government will select private sector partners to co-invest in an ultra-fast fibre broadband network. “We have only just received the ITP document and there is a lot to digest but the members will be dedicating all of our resources to put in the best bid possible to deliver ultra-fast fibre broadband to New Zealanders,” says Fuller. “Initial impressions are that the Government has come up with a very innovative funding approach and we need to consider the implications of this to our businesses.”

By 2015 the Government wants fibre within reach of at least 75% of Kiwi homes and businesses. With most premises reached over the next six years with broadband speeds of 100Mbps or greater - a challenge the NZRFG believes it can meet. The move will ensure efficiencies and capabilities far greater than the existing legacy networks constrained by copper, says Mr Fuller.

Many of the NZRFG’s 17 member companies are already forging ahead with fibre roll-outs around the country but Mr Fuller says they need Government funding for fibre infrastructure to really take hold.

When it does, the economic benefits to New Zealand’s economy will be immense, he says. “We have all been working in our communities and our regions for decades so we know our customer base well. We understand the needs, challenges and issues of the areas we work in, so we have the expertise to deliver what is required,” says Mr Fuller. “Rolling out fibre is complementary to the core business and asset base of all NZRFG members. Because we have regional structure and focus and many of us are community owned, we are obliged to do what is right by our communities.

“Fibre is a natural extension of that as it will change the way we live, work and play because it will provide New Zealanders with speed of light communications which will make the broadband of today look like dial-up. “There is already strong business and education utilisation of fibre from projects in cities like Whangarei, Auckland, Pukekohe, Nelson and Christchurch.

“Fibre is a critical investment in the infrastructural future of New Zealand – just like power was last century and look what benefits we’ve all enjoyed from that. Fibre will revolutionise the way we live because it will connect us to the rest of the world which means we can compete in a business sense from here,” says Mr Fuller.

Counties Power chief executive Neil Simmonds says fibre will also allow us to work from wherever we like and will be a huge boost in allowing New Zealanders far superior access to health and education services.

“And I’m referring to all sectors of society – our rural and urban landscapes included,” says Mr Simmonds. “NZRFG is extremely well positioned to deliver a national fibre roll-out because numerous members have already invested in fibre infrastructure and they are working in partnership and to an agreed set of technical standards.”


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