It’s Telecom

Steven Joyce has announced:

The government has today reached agreements with Telecom New Zealand and Enable Networks that will complete the roll out of ultra fast broadband (UFB) to 75% of New Zealanders where they live, work and study.

The government will partner with Enable Networks, which is 100% owned by Christchurch ratepayers through the Christchurch City Council, to build an ultra fast broadband network for Christchurch, Rangiora and surrounding areas.

The Telecom deals will see a fibre optic network built in Auckland, the eastern and lower North Island and most of the South Island.

As part of the deal, Telecom must split off its network arm, Chorus, into a completely separate company, so that all broadband retailers can compete fairly to on-sell wholesale ultra fast broadband. Chorus will maintain the Kiwishare obligations currently placed on Telecom.

Congratulations to Telecom, and commiserations to Vector and the Regional Fibre Group. Also congrats to the Minister for turning an ambitious policy into a reality.

There were pros and cons with either party winning, and I suspect the negotiations were very tough.

The major focus for many now will be on the structural separation of Telecom. This is probably going to the biggest change in the telco sector since Telecom was created out of the Post Office. The details of the separation are quite vital – Chorus needs to be totally independent from Telecom as quickly as possible.

Today’s agreements with Telecom and Enable mean the government will reach its goal of bringing ultrafast broadband to 75% of New Zealanders by 2019. The rollout will start immediately with schools, hospitals and 90% of businesses covered by 2015.

I believe the fibre rollout will change New Zealand. With fibre to the home, you will get far far more people working from home, less demand for office space, video-conferencing will be as routine as changing the channel on your TV etc.

Wholesale household prices will start at $40 or less per month for an entry level product and $60 per month for the 100 Megabit product. There are no connection charges for households.

Mr Joyce says today is a very exciting day for New Zealand.

“The future of broadband is in fibre, and taking it right to the home will bring significant gains for productivity, innovation and global reach.”

The prices seem pretty reasonable. What will be interesting is what retail services develop to use the fibre. such as combined phone/Internet/TV/movie packages.

The future is in fibre, and I do believe this will be a contributor to increased productivity and economic growth.

Chorus is going to become (for most of NZ) the provider of both copper and fibre access. It will be an infrastructure company. Over time, I’d like to see Chorus (and the other local fibre companies) move towards providing cellphone towers to retail telcos such as Vodafone, 2 degrees and Telecom. It would make a lot of sense as the LFCs will have the fibre connection for the backhauls, and it would mean each telco wouldn’t need to get consent for their own individual towers, but could just hire space on a tower for their transmitters.

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