UFB options narrow as Key rules out delay

Prime Minister John Key appears to have ruled out any delays to the rollout of ultrafast broadband.

Communications Minister Amy Adams was quoted on Saturday as indicating a delay to the Government's flagship infrastructure project was a possibility.

That was in the wake of a Commerce Commission ruling on copper broadband pricing that threatens to knock $140 million off Chorus' annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said on Friday that Chorus could complete its contract with the Crown to build 69 per cent of the fibre-optic broadband network. However, he believed the company might have a problem with "the speed at which we need to build it".

Chorus is contracted to lay fibre as far as the street by 2020 and to connect customer premises as and when they choose to switch to fibre.

But, during a radio interview this morning, Key appeared to rule out giving the company extra time, saying New Zealand would be "held back relative to other countries" if the network was not built on time.

"We can't afford that. We are going to make it happen by hell or high water," he said.

Key indicated the Government had abandoned plans to overrule the Commerce Commission by itself setting the price of copper broadband some time ago, after realising it could not summon a majority in Parliament.

He reiterated there might be other options, saying the Crown had got a good deal from Chorus originally.

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 - Stuff.co.nz


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