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NZRFG’s urban fibre reach to top 27% of the country

Media Release
13 December 2010

NZRFG’s urban fibre reach to top 27% of the country

More members of the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group are closing in on building South Island urban fibre networks after the Government revealed its latest shortlist for Ultra-Fast Broadband negotiations.

Christchurch fibre network provider Enable Networks (covering Christchurch and Rangiora), and the Flute Joint Venture (covering Dunedin) are next in line for prioritised negotiations.

If successful, the NZRFG’s UFB fibre footprint will top 27% of the Government’s proposed nationwide build.

According to CFH Chairman Simon Allen says Enable and Flute provided attractive proposals.

Enable CEO Steve Fuller says he is pleased to be prioritised for further discussions, especially when the company has invested so heavily in fibre throughout the city. Enable’s fibre network passes 75% of businesses already.

Meanwhile, Aurora CEO Grady Cameron says Flute is looking forward to finalising an agreement so it can co-invest with the Government to deploy more fibre optic infrastructure in Dunedin.

NZRFG CEO Vaughan Baker believes the shortlisting of Enable (which has no electricity lines network) and Flute is recognition of their strengths as fibre specialists.

He says they are like numerous other members of the NZRFG who have become highly adept at state of the art fibre network builds around New Zealand.

“I think other members still have a very strong case to get to the negotiating table in months to come,” says Mr Baker.

It is only a week since Crown Fibre Holdings confirmed that Northpower and Ultra Fast Fibre Limited (owned by WEL Networks and previously known as the Central North Island Fibre Consortium) would begin building New Zealand’s first government backed urban fibre networks. Combined, the regions (Whangarei, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Hawera and Tokoroa) will total 16% of the urban build.

Northpower, which already has a substantial fibre network, has stated its Government backed network will be underway before Christmas.

“The NZRFG membership has been entrenched in building fibre networks for many years now, in some cases over a decade. I’m looking forward to further announcements as more progress with discussions between members and CFH continue,” says Mr Baker.

“I think what we are seeing is recognition from the Crown that many of our members are specialist fibre companies who have proven their expertise time and time again.

“Mr Joyce has stated previously that these networks are a utility build, not a telecommunications build, and he is right to say that. That is certainly our view.

Mr Baker says members remain committed to working with CFH to reach final agreement on the Christchurch, Rangiora and Dunedin fibre network builds.

“Local ownership and a regional approach to these projects utilising existing infrastructure - and in some cases well established ultra-fast fibre networks - will be of immense benefit to schools, businesses, healthcare and education facilities, not to mention the community at large.

“The UFBI will be a massive boost for our economy in that it provides such a shift to the existing industry structure by separating services from an underlying locally owned utility infrastructure, which will create greater service provider competition for consumers. It is the model we have proposed from the start,” says Mr Baker.


Editor’s Notes:
The NZRFG is a group of regional operators including lines companies and local fibre companies, which has come together to support the Government’s efforts to introduce ultra-fast broadband to New Zealand. Members include Alpine Energy, Aurora Energy, CityLink, Counties Power, Eastland Group, Electra, Electricity Ashburton, Enable Networks Ltd, Horizon Energy, Network Tasman, Network Waitaki, Northpower, PowerNet, Unison, Vector, Velocity, Waipa Networks, WEL Networks and Westpower.

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