Ultrafast broadband watch

17:00, Jun 26 2011

1.3 PER CENT TO MISS OUT

The Government has put a number on how many people will miss out from its UFB and rural broadband (RBI) initiatives.

About 1.3 per cent of New Zealanders – 57,000 people – can expect to get little direct benefit, other than perhaps better broadband at their local school.

Telecom and Vodafone have between them guaranteed to provide broadband speeds of 5 megabits per second to about 900,000 rural Kiwis under the $285 million RBI scheme. About another 200,000 can expect at least a 1Mbps service, but Communications Minister Steven Joyce said the most remote 1.3 per cent of New Zealand households would not be able to obtain peak speeds of 1Mbps using Telecom's fixed-line network, Vodafone's rural wireless service or mobile broadband.

Mr Joyce said satellite broadband remained an option for those households, but there would be no Government subsidy.

"We are observing an increasingly competitive market for satellite services providing speeds of up to 5Mbps, available without government assistance," he said. Those communities might also be able to develop "innovative solutions" by investing in their own broadband services such as wi-fi or "mesh networks", connecting those to the "open access" RBI network, he said.

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TELECOM PREPARES FOR SPLIT

Telecom has pulled down the shutters until at least August as it prepares the documentation for its proposed sharemarket split.

The company said in a statement that securities law would constrain it from communicating any information to investors, staff or the media that could reasonably be expected to encourage shareholders to vote for or against structural separation, until after it publishes a booklet on the demerger.

The booklet will not be published until after Telecom posts its annual accounts in mid-August, at the every earliest, a spokesman said.

POSSIBLE NAME CHANGE

IDC Research analyst Rosalie Nelson said planning for Telecom's new retail business would be in full swing and the company might be considering a name change.

"It would not surprise me to see a rebranding of the name because there is a legacy carried with the Telecom brand – both good and bad – and we are now talking about an entirely new business."

The retail business would need to significantly reduce its costs and would have an incentive to persuade customers to move from fixed to mobile broadband, she said.

TRIAL DELAYED

BT has delayed a trial of fibre-to-the-home in Britain after finding it was taking far longer than expected for engineers to install fibre in people's homes. The trial may give an insight into some of the challenges faced by Chorus and its three fellow UFB network builders.

BT told British news site The Register it was taking an average of seven hours for two engineers to complete each "managed install". Broadband programme director Johnny McQuoid said the delays were caused by duct blockages and because some customers insisted on being present during installation. A quarter of homes took the best part of two days to connect.

New Zealand's UFB scheme will see 1.1 million homes connected with fibre. Based on BT's average connection times, hooking them up to fibre in the street would take 1000 employees about nine years.

BusinessDay.co.nz