Snap tips big internet growth

Christchurch-based internet service provider Snap says 2013 will be a year of significant growth for the company after it invested millions of dollars in building its national network last year.

Snap chief executive and owner Mark Petrie expected staff numbers to leap from 75 to more than 100 by year-end, but said attracting staff was a challenge in Christchurch.

The firm invested millions in building a "significant national network" in both the North and South Islands over the last year. This year the focus was on sales.

Snap had invested in capacity between New Zealand and Australia by buying bandwidth directly from Southern Cross Cables, the company that operates the network of submarine fibre- optic cables between New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Signing directly with Southern Cross Cables for that capacity meant faster and more reliable service for customers, Petrie said.

This year Snap is looking to do the same for access between New Zealand and the United States.

Snap's head office and call centre are based in Christchurch but the ISP has customers across the country.

Petrie won't reveal revenue figures but said annual revenue jumped between 30 and 40 per cent last year, from the year before.

The company has just hired three new sales staff including one in Auckland to grow the company's presence there and is pushing aggressively into the ultra-fast broadband area with Chorus and Enable Networks, the joint venture between Christchurch City Holdings and Crown Fibre Holdings tasked with rolling out ultra-fast broadband to homes and businesses in Christchurch and Rangiora.

Snap's clients include the Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch City Council, 2Degrees, Canterbury, Lincoln and Victoria Universities and CPIT, as well as about half of Christchurch schools.

Customer numbers and customer needs were increasing and Snap was gaining market share from its rivals.

It was currently looking for five staff to add to its call centre, and would likely need another 10 within a few months.

But its biggest challenge was recruiting staff to Christchurch, Petrie said.

"There is a challenge attracting staff. We're one of the only ISPs based in Christchurch.

"Certain skill sets are hard to come by in Christchurch and we have had to attract people from the North Island and even from Australia."

Senior network engineers were particularly difficult to find.

Call centre roles could also become harder to fill, general manager James Koers said.

"Call centre roles are reasonably entry level so we're probably competing with a range of other industries out there for some of those guys, because they can probably earn pretty good money working on a building site - or they will be able to soon once the rebuild ramps up."

The Press