Telecom pushes for broadband partnership

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER AND CLAIRE MCENTEE
Last updated 05:00 12/11/2010

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Telecom will today step up its campaign to become the Government's broadband partner, releasing a poll on its website that says more Kiwis would prefer its network arm Chorus got the job of building the ultrafast broadband network than electricity lines companies headed by Vector.

Telecom has proposed splitting into two separate companies next year so Chorus could compete for the job of building the fibre-optic broadband network, which would connect homes and businesses in 33 cities and towns by 2019.

It commissioned pollster UMR to do a phone survey of 719 people.

UMR said 48 per cent of those polled would prefer to see Telecom broken up and have "an independent, stand-alone Chorus extend the existing fibre network", while 28 per cent favoured the Government investing in a new network rolled out by electricity lines companies led by Vector.

Vector spokeswoman Philippa White responded: "Essentially the decision as to who will partner with the Government for the UFB build sits with Crown Fibre Holdings".

Just over a quarter of those polled by UMR said they knew at least a fair amount about the scheme, and of that quarter, 80 per cent said they supported the initiative.

Eleven per cent said they had never heard of it.

Labour Party communications spokeswoman Clare Curran questioned Communications Minister Steven Joyce in Parliament over a Dominion Post report that Crown Fibre director Murray Milner had carried out consultancy work for Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, which she said would almost certainly be a bidder for equipment and services.

Ms Curran said that represented a potential conflict of interest which he needed to address.

Mr Joyce said Huawei would "not be a bidder in the process Crown Fibre's board is considering" but a potential technology supplier.

TeamTalk managing director David Ware said it did not expect to hear any word on the outcome of its subsidiary CityLink's bid to win the Wellington UFB contract before Christmas.

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- The Dominion Post

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