New Zealand’s Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) has received 15 proposals for the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, reports New Zealand Press Agency. CFH, the state-owned company in charge of managing the NZD1.5 billion scheme, has said that proposals cover all 33 ‘candidate areas’, reaching 75% of New Zealand’s population. It is believed that some applicants have formed new consortia in order to meet the conditions of the tender; bidders include Vector and Vodafone, in partnership with Canadian fibre company Axia. CFH began seeking proposals for the initiative in October 2009, and completed the eligibility stage in March. In July it asked respondents to redefine their proposals. CFH chairman Simon Allen said that a shortlist will now be made, and recommendations on preferred investment partners will be made known in October this year. CFH expects to start the rollout before the end of the year.
In related news, Telecom New Zealand has submitted a refined proposal based on the de-merger of its network business, to safeguard its own participation in the initiative. Under current rules, Telecom NZ is excluded from the public-private initiative because the government has barred telecoms retailers from participating. Telecom NZ Chief Executive Paul Reynolds confirmed that its proposal involves the structural separation of Telecom through a de-merger into two companies, with the network business becoming a new, stand-alone company, branded Chorus. However, any significant structural change to Telecom New Zealand’s business will require 75% of the shareholders to vote in favour of the proposal. Dr Reynolds commented: ‘I firmly believe that Telecom, through Chorus, can deliver more fibre, faster and more efficiently than any other partner while avoiding duplication or waste. Our solution brings together the best of both worlds – the economies of scale and consistency of service inherent in a single, national, open access network, and the potential for significant local community involvement. No sacred cows have been spared and no assumptions have been left unchecked as we have worked through this stage of what is a challenging but critically important issue.’