Telecom New Zealand to debut UFB fiber broadband services in March

Hopes to maintain 50% stake in country's broadband market
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Telecom New Zealand (NYSE: NZT) on Friday said it will start offering fiber-based broadband services over the government's Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) network to its consumer and business customer base in March.

While it appears the company is on track to meet the March goal, Telecom New Zealand's CEO Simon Moutter said it still has issues to iron out to ensure customers will be able to get a clear connection.

Moutter said during a recent Telecommunications Users Association event in Wellington that the company wants to maintain its 50 percent stake of the country's broadband market.

"We need to become a competitive, agile, future-oriented mobile and data centric-service provider. It is quite a big change in culture," he said.

Competition for UFB customers will be fierce as ISPs like Orcon and Lightware, both of which are aggressively rolling out UFB services to their own customer bases, continue to push into the space.

Orcon recently expanded its UFB coverage to 17 cities with the addition of Invercargill, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Tauranga. This was up from the 10 cities it had started serving last November. Last March, the service provider also rolled out its competitively priced nationwide pricing plans. Eligible customers can get a fiber-based modem, phone service, 30GB of data and national landline-to-landline calls for NZ 75 (USD 64) per month.

Meanwhile, Hamilton-based Lightwire is in the process of bringing 100 Mbps-cable Internet speeds to three rural Waikato schools. Today, it is providing the service to Ngahinapouri School with plans to link up Te Pahu, Paterangi and Koromatua schools later this year. Ultimately, Lightware plans to hook up 97.7 percent of schools to the UFB network by 2016.

The New Zealand government overall has been making continual progress with the UFB. As of last November, it reported that 100,000 homes, businesses and schools could connect to the government UFB network. This was an increase from the 76,000 premises it said the network passed in August.

For more:
Telecompaper has this article
- the Waikato-Times has this article

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