New Zealand-based wholesale fixed line provider Chorus has announced its half-year 2021 financial results, reporting net profit of NZD24 million (USD17.56 million) and EBITDA of NZD323 million for the six months ended 31 December 2020, down from NZD31 million and NZD332 million respectively in the year earlier period. The company attributed the drops to the continued migration of customers from legacy copper services to alternative networks in non-Chorus fibre network areas, as well as weaker demand for new fibre connections as a result of COVID-19. Operating revenue for the period was NZD10 million lower at NZD473 million and operating expenses remained largely flat at NZD151 million. For the full year, Chorus said its EBITDA guidance remains unchanged at between NZD640 million and NZD660 million (towards the lower end of its previous forecast), while gross CAPEX has been increased to NZD670 million-NZD700 million from the prior range of NZD630 million-NZD670 million.
Network performance was ‘solid’, Chorus CEO JB Rousselot said, with fibre uptake improving from 60% to 63% with 62,000 fibre connections added during the six months, which brought the total of its fibre connections to 813,000, of which 17% (136,000) were on gigabit plans. A total of 966,000 premises are now passed by the company’s fibre network, meaning the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) rollout is now 92% complete. Across its wider footprint, the company now has almost 1.37 million fixed line connections, a decrease of 46,000 compared with FY20, and 1.183 million broadband connections (down 23,000).
Following the release of the Commerce Commission’s Copper Withdrawal Code last December, Chorus also announced it will start cutting copper services from September in a limited number of areas where fibre uptake is ‘already high’. The company stressed that customers outside these initial trial areas should not feel under any pressure to migrate from copper, as its plans over the next twelve months are expected to affect less than 1% of the half million customers still on copper.