NZ telcos urge minister to strip fibre company of its tarnished Crown

21 Feb 2012

New Zealand’s dominant telecoms operators have united to put pressure on communications minister Amy Adams, with calls for Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) – the company charged with overseeing the government’s NZD1.3 billion (USD1.09 billion) investment in the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative – to be ‘sidelined or scrapped’, reports. The website reports that David Stone, chief executive of the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF), wrote to Adams on behalf of Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, CallPlus, 2degrees, Chorus, WEL Networks, Northpower and several smaller telcos, implying that CFH is actively delaying deals that need to be struck before UFB services can be offered to customers.

A copy of the letter, which was leaked to The Dominion Post, quotes Stone as saying: ‘With a few minor exceptions, Crown Fibre’s interventions have not been helpful and have delayed commercial arrangement’. He went on to say that CFH’s role needed ‘adjusting to reflect a more narrowly defined mandate’ and that the company’s ‘remaining minor roles could easily be managed by an existing government department.’ The TCF, which represents all of New Zealand’s major telcos except TelstraClear, argued that CFH had completed its job of awarding contracts to build out the UFB network, and should not act as a ‘quasi-regulator’, nor should it have an active role in negotiating equipment supply contracts for the network. For her part, Adams confirmed that she had met with several industry representatives and responded by saying: ‘Officials are looking into this matter for me.’