Telecom & Voda selected for Rural Broadband roleout, what next for Maori?

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The government hasselected Telecomand Vodafoneas partners to build a broadband Internet network across New Zealands rural areas.

What this means for Maori has yet to be seen however SwiftNet and TangataWhenua.com were two Maori groups who helped to tautoko the joint Telecom, Vodafone proposal to the Maori Party caucus in December 2010.

SwiftNet isa Hastings based Internet Service Provider that was specifcally mentioned as part of the network aspirations for the joint Telecom and Vodafone bid. In a community meeting held last December in Whakatane, representatives from Telecom and Vodafone spoke about how important improved rural access is for families and farms, community groups and marae, as well as hinting toward opportunities for Maori land owners in the siting of phone towers, lines and services.

Both SwiftNet and TangataWhenua.com met Telecom and Vodafoneto discuss issues of high priority for Maori and accompanied the delegation to meet with the Maori Party caucus, so news that the government has looked favourably upon this bid is good …but as with everything, the reality of the talks needs to live up to the expectations of the promises made and these need to be more accountable, as the process to get to this stage has been shrouded in confidentiality.

In parallell, Te Taitokerau Networks Ltd,was formed to build infrastructure in the Far North with the support of Opto Networks, which is led by Te Runanga o Whaingaroa, Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua and Te Runanga o Te Rarawa.There is still arequirement from the Government that Telecom and Vodafone consult with Maori, so TNL will be in a strong position to join discussions with SwiftNet, Telecom and Vodafone.

By Tracy Withers Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) — Commercial negotiations with the two companies have begun and are likely to be concluded by the end of March, Wellington- based Communications Minister Steven Joyce said today in an e-mailed statement. The contract is worth about NZ$285 million, Joyce said in November.

Telecom, New Zealands biggest telephone company, and Vodafone submitted a joint bid to join the governments Rural Broadband Initiative, which seeks to provide broadband to 95 percent of rural schools and 80 percent of rural homes within six years. Two other bidders (which included the Torotoro Waea consortium) shortlisted in December.

The joint proposal was the only one that increases mobile coverage, Joyce said.

A successful project would include Telecom and Vodafone looking to use existing infrastructure where they can. I also expect to see affordable wholesale and retail prices from this investment.

Telecom and Vodafone said Nov. 12 that they plan to combine their resources by extending Telecoms existing cable infrastructure and Vodafones wireless network.

Joyce said their bid involves extending Telecoms fiber network to deliver broadband to 252,000 rural customers. It also includes construction of 154 cell towers to improve mobile coverage in country areas and the direct connection of 719 rural schools to fiber networks.

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  1. Govt starts broadband negotiations with Telecom, Vodafone

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/462496

    State-owned enterprise Kordia said it was "dismayed" the Government had begun commercial negotiations with Telecom and Vodafone to upgrade rural broadband.

    Communications Minister Steven Joyce said he expected contracts to be signed with Telecom and Vodafone by the end of March.

    "Should that not prove possible for any reason, the Government reserves the right to re-tender for the contract."

    Mr Joyce said the joint bid by Telecom and Vodafone for the Government's $300 million Rural Broadband Initiative was the only one that increased mobile coverage, and it would ensure "serious competition", with many rural customers able to choose from fixed wireless, ADSL2+ and mobile broadband.

    Kordia was part of a rival consortium, OpenGate, which bid for the contract in competition to Telecom and Vodafone. Chief executive Geoff Hunt said the Government had decided to "stick with the status quo provided by the incumbent duopoly".

    "This decision effectively condemns rural communities to suffering from same old duopoly services that continue to under-deliver and hold rural New Zealand hostage," he said.

    “The government had an opportunity through the RBI to provide a technology step-change in services for rural New Zealand that would have laid a future-proof and highly competitive foundation for the next 15 years,” he added. "We should remember that this was supposed to be the rural broadband initiative and not the rural mobile initiative.”

    Mr Joyce said only 20 per cent of people in rural New Zealand could currently access broadband speeds of at least 5 megabits per second.

    "This will rise to 86 per cent of rural households and businesses, with 95 per cent of rural schools receiving ultra-fast connection. The extension of the fibre backbone into rural areas means more customers living on the fibre routes may be able to get fibre-to-the-door.

    "For many remote and not-so-remote rural areas this will be light years ahead of where they are today and will ensure they participate in the promise of the digital economy."

    The upgrade is due to be completed by 2016 and would see 719 rural schools connected with fibre.

    Mr Joyce said "strict open access rules" would be included in any contract.

    "This will promote healthy competition in both the rural wholesale and retail broadband markets. Other providers who have not been successful in the tender will be able to provide services using the government-funded infrastructure. The infrastructure will also support new technologies like 4G as they roll out."

    Ad Feedback He encouraged the unsuccessful bidders, which include state-owned enterprise Kordia, to work with Telecom and Vodafone to look at ways to "further improve" solutions for rural New Zealand.

    – BusinessDay.co.nz

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