Telecom: Gigabit internet everywhere

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 17:30 04/08/2014

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Telecom has crossed swords with Chorus for the second time in as many months.

This time it has written to its former network arm suggesting it offer households gigabit internet speeds everywhere it is laying ultrafast broadband (UFB).

Hamilton-based Ultrafast Fibre Limited said in June that it would begin wholesaling a gigabit residential service in Hamilton, Whanganui, Tauranga, New Plymouth and the four other central North Island towns where it is laying UFB.

Telecom said it had now written to Chorus and fellow UFB-network builders Enable and Northpower Fibre suggesting they follow suit.

"With consumers increasingly embracing the benefits of fibre and thirsting for more data at higher speeds, we think the time is right to have a consistent 1 gigabit-per-second offering across all fibre companies and the entire UFB network," Telecom delivery manager Lindsay Cowley said.

He called for the four UFB network builders to align their wholesale products, so retailers such as Telecom could sell a "nationally consistent" set of products to customers.

"We applaud . . . innovation and increasing the fibre speeds we can offer to customers," he said.

"However it's getting to the stage where there are too many different inputs across different parts of the country, which makes marketing nationally-consistent fibre services to our customers more difficult."

Other internet providers, including Christchurch's Snap Internet, have voiced similar concerns.

Telecom spokesman Andrew Pirie confirmed it was the lack of consistency of wholesale UFB services that was Telecom's biggest concern.

Telecom's call for a gigabit consumer UFB service is a potential embarrassment for Chorus, which has been running a high-profile "Gigatown" competition to offer that at no extra charge to just one New Zealand town.

Last month, Telecom lodged an objection with the Commerce Commission over Chorus' proposal to impose an "artificial cap" limiting future improvements to Chorus' regulated copper broadband service. The objection prompted the regulator to launch an investigation into whether Chorus' proposal might breach the Telecommunications Act.

Chorus spokesman Ian Bonnar said Chorus already wholesaled a gigabit UFB service, which it marketed as a business service, to internet providers. The business service uses a different network topology to its standard residential products, with dedicated rather than shared optical-fibres running to each premise.

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Regarding Telecom's call for "consistency", Bonnar said Chorus worked "closely with all industry participants to get the products that best suit their individual needs, noting that what suits one might not suit all".

"We will happily engage with Telecom and all other industry participants on this in the usual forums," he said.

- Stuff

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