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National expansion for fibre provider

Media release
22 December 2009


National expansion for fibre provider


Horowhenua company Electra is the latest electricity specialist to join the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group.

And with the Government’s blessing, it hopes to be rolling out fibre in the region within a year.

The announcement comes barely a week after Westpower pledged its allegiance to the NZRFG – a leading contender for partnering with the Government on the $1.5 billion ultra-fast fibre broadband initiative.

Electra CEO John Yeoman says that as an owner in an existing fibre and cell site company – Sky Comms – linking with the NZRFG is a natural fit. Electra has previously been involved in another fibre company, giving it broad experience building and connecting fibre networks.

“Establishing a fibre network in Levin and Kapiti is a priority for the Government and we are determined to be a part of that – though that will depend on the success of our bid to partner with the Government as its preferred fibre provider for the region,” says Mr Yeoman.

“Over time we also want to create a fibre network in the rest of Horowhenua and other outlying rural areas in our catchment to connect farmers to fibre-based technology – simply because it is the way of the future and we need to keep up with the rest of the world. The fact that we are already operating a full service telecommunications contracting company (Sky Comms), puts us in a good position to do just that – quickly and efficiently.

“The beauty of fibre is that it provides connection speeds upwards of 100Mbit/s which gives people the ability to work from anywhere, anytime, because they can connect to their work through real-time video conferencing. The speed of fibre networks means there are no delays in the video transmission and large data files can be transmitted quickly.

“Unlike copper, fibre does not suffer from interference or inconsistency. It really is the way of the future for communications worldwide.”

Mr Yeoman says as a community owned company, Electra is constantly looking to provide additional benefits for shareholders.

“Fibre is a good addition to what we are doing as a business and we see joining the NZRFG as a real positive for our ongoing growth. Eventually, I believe offering ‘triple play’ (voice, broadband internet and television) over a fibre network will be very attractive to consumers and will become the normal choice of connection but that build needs to start now to meet future demand,” he says.

Electra’s lines network extends from Foxton in the north, down to Paekakariki.

With the addition of Electra, New Zealand’s ninth largest lines company servicing more than 42,000 customers throughout Kapiti and Horowhenua, NZRFG membership now totals 19 lines and fibre companies.

The group’s nationwide reach has accelerated quickly this month, timely growth with the January 29 deadline for fibre roll-out submissions looming. It can now provide fibre solutions for all 33 of the Government’s preferred candidate areas (or regions), an impressive achievement for a group that did not exist 12 months ago.

A number of submissions are expected from NZRFG members, some of whom are establishing consortiums to bid for fibre contracts across multiple regions.

They plan to utilise long-established lines networks, while working to shared national technical standards, sharing expertise to lower costs and driving business efficiencies, says Mr Yeoman.

He says as Kapiti and Horowhenua’s electricity and lines provider, Electra plans to devise a sound business case to quickly add fibre to its network.

The NZRFG announced late last week a two-fold intention to provide fibre-driven broadband speeds of at least 100Mbit/s and to take fibre to the door of as many Kiwi homes and businesses as possible. The Government wants 75% of the country to have ultra-fast fibre broadband connectivity within 10 years, progress it has stated will help lift regional and national productivity.

In fact many NZRFG members, of whom 10 have established fibre networks, are already delivering upload and download speeds of 100Mbit/s. Much greater speeds are easily within reach.

The group also believes New Zealanders will only receive the broadband quality and speed they deserve with fibre connections and says regionally based fibre networks are a critical investment in New Zealand’s future economic and social well-being.

Despite claims from some broadband providers that current download speeds of 5-10Mbit/s are adequate, the NZRFG says its membership has consistently proven otherwise through an array of fibre networks.

ENDS

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