The deadline for firms to apply to partner state-owned Crown Fibre Holdings in the rollout of a national next generation network (NGN) passed on 29 January. Although submissions for the NZD1.5 billion (USD1.05 billion) project are confidential, a number of companies looking to partner one of 33 local fibre firms in deploying the network went public with some information, keen to assure the state that their applications were open to negotiation, CommsDay reports. Among the applicants was, as expected, Telecom New Zealand, which submitted two proposals to the state, one compliant with Crown Fibre’s plan and one non-compliant. The process allows non-compliant submissions only if the submitter has also made a compliant one. Telecom’s alternative proposal claims that NGN deployments should be overseen on a national level, rather than on 33 separate, regional, stages. The company added that a national model would ensure that the project remains ‘a consistently engineered and interconnected network’, while enabling the company to leverage existing infrastructure, such as Telecom’s Chorus network. Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds said: ‘Telecom’s proposals are a combination of building on the 23,500km of fibre-optic cable already in the ground and integrating the government’s NZD1.5 billion investment with Telecom’s existing plans to extend the reach of fibre to more and more New Zealanders.’
Telecom faces tough competition from a number of firms willing to cooperate with the state’s existing plans. New Zealand Regional Fibre Group (NZRFG), which represents 19 utilities and fibre specialists, revealed that a number of its members had submitted bids. A NZRFG spokesman insisted that members’ bids were also open to negotiation, saying the group ‘wants to have more discussions with the government’. Meanwhile power firms such as Auckland-based Vector have been keen to highlight the potential of leveraging existing assets. Rival bids were also lodged by TeamTalk, WEL Networks, Flute Network, CityLink and Electra, amongst others. The state has not set out a timeline for Crown Fibre’s response to the proposals.