Telecom New Zealand shortlisted for UFB initiative

Telecom (ASX:TEL) still open to partnerships with public and private sector fibre owners

Telecom New Zealand (ASX:TEL) has succeeded in its bid to get a seat at the negotiating table for New Zealand’s Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative.

The company, along with Enable Networks and the Flute joint venture, has made the latest round of priority negotiations nominees.

Northpower Limited and Ultrafast Fibre Limited – led by WEL Networks — have been confirmed as partners for about 16 per cent of the UFB build out.

Telecom CEO, Paul Reynolds, said in an ASX statement that the telco was pleased to have been selected for preferred negotiations and looked forward to engaging in detailed discussions with NZ’s Crown Fibre Holdings and the Ministry of Economic Development.

"Over the past few months we have worked tirelessly to refine our proposal in order to meet the needs of our shareholders at the same time as achieving the objectives of the government, and we will continue to do so as the process progresses,” Reynolds said.

“We remain firmly of the belief that a structurally separate Chorus as the cornerstone of a national framework for fibre is the most efficient and effective way to deliver the government’s fibre vision and that is reflected in our proposal.

“We reiterate our openness to partnership with other public and private sector owners of fibre assets where partnership can improve the overall economics and deliver fibre further and faster for New Zealand.

Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone in mid-November confirmed the two companies had submitted a joint response to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), a program which aims to give 97 per cent of rural NZ households access to broadband speeds of at least five megabits per second (Mbps).

The UFB project aims to deliver at least 5Mbps broadband to 80 per cent of rural households, with the remainder on at least 1Mbps, and connect at least 93 per cent of New Zealand schools to fibre.

The project will be partly funded through a $NZ48 million government grant, with the rest to come from the industry-funded Telecommunications Development Levy introduced as part of the nation's universal service obligation reforms.

Telecom New Zealand reported a halving of its adjusted net earnings for the quarter to 30 September, despite the sale of the consumer arm of its subsidiary AAPT.

For the quarter to 30 September, Telecom reported adjusted earnings of $NZ83 million, down from $NZ163 million during the previous year’s quarter.

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Tags businessNetworkingTelecommunicationstelecom new zealandUltra Fast Broadband (UFB)

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