Telecom NZ prepares thinner, fibre future

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Telecom NZ prepares thinner, fibre future

Regardless of role in government-funded UFB project.

New Zealand's telco incumbent Telecom NZ has announced preparations for a fibre-optic future, regardless of whether it is involved in the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project.

Should it fail in its final bid for the project, the telco has announced its intention to go out on its own and compete with the government initiative.

Telecom will compete through a range of options to deliver broadband services to customers, a spokesman for the company said.

“We’re very much in the game still,” the spokesman said, when asked what the company would do if it wasn’t selected for the UFB project, partly or wholly.

Currently, Telecom NZ has almost completed the roll-out of a fibre-to-the-node program as agreed to with the previous Labour government. When the roadside cabinet program is finished at the end of this year, Telecom expects to be able to provide 10Mbps broadband connections to 80 percent of New Zealanders.

The roadside cabinets are also capable of using gigabit passive optical networking interfaces and Telecom will deploy 3,600 of them connected with 2,500 kilometres of fibre-optic cable. Telecom’s fibre-optic network currently spans 27,000 kilometres in total, the spokesman said.

“We are confident in the future,” he said, while pointing out that the “big decision” on the government's UFB project was yet to be made.

Telecom is also slimming down.

“We’ve had our credit cards cut up,” he said, and the executive team will be sliced down to eight members from ten.

Telecom’s wholesale operation was the first victim - with acting CEO Nick Clarke standing down from the executive team while his business unit is rolled into Chorus, the infrastructure arm of the telco.

Finance, human resources, strategy, legal and corporate relations will also be reduced to three executive roles.

Telecom’s participation in the New Zealand UFB project  is complicated by an obligation for the telco to de-merge into two separate listed entities this calendar year.

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