New Zealand awards initial broadband plan contractors

The New Zealand government's dream of building a national broadband network are getting underway as it has awarded two utility companies to construct the urban portion of the project.

Northpower Ltd and a subsidiary of WEL networks Ltd., which were both named as preferred bidders in September, have been tasked with building out New Zealand's "ultra-fast" broadband network in the North Island cities of Hamilton, Tauranga, Whangarei, New Plymouth and Wanganui. Set to be finished by 2015, the two contractors will begin work on the project before the Christmas holiday, which covers an estimated 16 percent of the government's nationwide broadband plan.

Steven Joyce, New Zealand's communications minister said that the government will name the remaining preferred partners to build out the remaining 25 regions soon.

Of course, the big question is what about incumbent operator Telecom New Zealand. Previously, the service provider proposed its own national fiber-based broadband plan. TNZ's plan, however, hinges on it being able to selling off its network operations.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

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