NZ shortlists another bidder for UFB project

Dylan Bushell-Embling
08 Mar 2011

Telecom NZ has new competition for its participation in the Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) project, in the form of a consortium of power lines companies.

Crown Fibre Holdings, the company set up by the New Zealand government to conduct the rollout, today revealed it had added the Central Fibre Consortium to a growing list of entities selected for UFB priority negotiations.

The consortium, consisting of Unison Networks, Counties Power, Eastland Group, Horizon Energy Distribution and Centralines, has submitted a proposal covering 10 areas of the proposed buildout, which will ultimately see 75% of homes passed with fiber.

Crown Fibre chairman Simon Allen said the consortium consists of companies with expertise owning and operating essential infrastructure, with two of the members already operating fiber networks.

Telecom NZ now has five rival bids to contend with in its efforts to secure participation in the project. One of these – Vector Limited – was added to the list only last month.

Despite repeatedly insisting it has the best proposal for the project, the operator was initially excluded from the priority discussions, and missed out on the first round of contracts.

The leader of Telecom NZ's UFB team, Mark Ratcliffe, toldComputerworld NZ that the company is eager to conclude discussions with Crown Fibre, and get to work demerging – a condition of its participation – and building the network.

The company and traditional rival Vodafone NZ were last month selected for a concurrent Rural Broadband Initiative project – to the chagrin of rival participants including Kordia.

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