Telecom consumer UFB early next year

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 13:21 06/08/2012

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Price will be high in Telecom's mind when it begins offering ultrafast broadband to consumers in the "early part of next year", interim chief executive Chris Quin says.

So far, only state-owned provider Orcon and Christchurch's Snap have launched plans, starting at $75 a month, that let consumers hook up to the UFB network.

"Price is obviously on customers' minds, there is no question," Quin said.

"And then data caps and speeds are the next things people look to. The big question is what are we going to use this for, and that is where the industry, the Government and everyone has to work together to deliver an environment where so many more things are enabled over broadband.

"We have got our own plans about services we think will make sense to consumers and we'll announce those as they come. I don't think there will be surprises; it will be down to who brings services together best, has a competitive price and a good solid service offering."

Quin said that in the interim, Telecom faced a disadvantage fighting for market share in the consumer broadband market, as unlike its competitors, it couldn't unbundle Chorus' copper local loop.

Rules imposed by the Government at the time of Telecom's sharemarket split last year prevented Telecom unbundling Chorus' exchanges for three years, until towards the end of 2014.

The Commerce Commission has regulated the price of unbundling so as to make it a more economic option for serving customers than the alternative of wholesaling Chorus' network, at least in parts of many towns and cities.

"We have that impediment in competing but our customers won't let us make that excuse. We just have to keep finding ways to win," Quin said.

He said that by the time unbundling became an option for Telecom, it would probably be too late, and Telecom would need to instead focus its efforts on selling ultrafast broadband over the alternative fibre network.

"By the time we get to the point unbundling is available to us, fibre is likely to be widely available," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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