13 Dec 2010
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UFB: Government confirms three more cities - Updated

Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) has named three more companies it will start negotiating binding offers with for the rollout of UFB.

The first government-funded fibre will also be going in the ground this week, confirms Comms Minister, Steven Joyce.

The three new companies are:

  • Enable Networks, covering Christchurch and Rangiora
  • Flute Joint Venture, covering Dunedin
  • Telecom, covering 25 areas except those covered by Northpower, UltraFast Fibre Limited and Alpine Energy
It was announced last week that Hamilton, Tauranga, Whangarei, New Plymouth and Wanganui will be the first to get ultra-fast broadband.

This is the first time Telecom has got a mention. “We are pleased to have been selected for preferred negotiations and look forward to engaging in detailed discussions with Crown Fibre Holdings and the Ministry of Economic Development over the coming months,” said Paul Reynolds, Telecom CEO.

"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,” he added.

“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."

Reynolds also said that he was still open to the idea of UFB partnerships. “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,” he said.

Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Steven Joyce, welcomed the news from Crown Fibre Holdings that further negotiations are now underway.

“I’m pleased with the progress being made on this important infrastructure build project,” he said. “Much faster broadband is an important part of the government’s growth strategy and we are well on track to deliver that.

“Within the last two weeks we have confirmed the first Local Fibre Company partners and confirmed the parties for the second round of negotiations. Tomorrow, the first government-funded fibre will be going in the ground. In addition good progress is being made on the complementary rural broadband initiative.”

Joyce added that CFH's next recommendations on binding offers will be announced “in the first quarter of 2011.”

CFH Chairman Simon Allen said the above parties had provided attractive proposals to CFH , including a combination of access prices in line with those announced last week.

"CFH is very encouraged by these three proposals. In combination with the approved binding offers from Northpower Limited and UltraFast Fibre Limited, these parties have potential to deliver nationally consistent access prices at attractive levels. This provides confidence that the complete UFB initiative can be built within the government's allocated budget," Allen explained.

CFH also released a short Q&A about the progress being made:

What does this mean for the remaining shortlisted candidates?

They are all still shortlisted for the UFB initiative. Discussions will continue with all such parties.

Will any respondents  partner with other parties?

CFH is open to partnering but this is a matter for the parties concerned.

What is the status of the negotiations with Alpine?

Alpine remain selected for prioritised negotiations. A recommendation to Ministers would be made if a final binding offer had been received from Alpine but one has not yet been received.

What does this mean for the RBI?

The two initiatives are not connected from a commercial or policy perspective and have no bearing on one another in this regard.

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