Enable plans fibre to home trial by Christmas

Telecom eyes partnership with Enable; IDC figures suggest why

Enable Networks chair Bill Luff says it plans to trial a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout in Christchurch by the end of the year.

“We’ve agreed in principle to probably target 500 premises and trial some architecture before Christmas,” Luff told Computerworld.

Enable Networks has been successful in winning its bid to partner with the government in the Local Fibre Co that covers Christchurch and Rangiora. Enable is a subsidiary of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCH), which is 100 percent owned by the Christchurch City Council. Luff says between five and 10 percent of the total UFB rollout will occur in the areas affected by the two Canterbury earthquakes.

CCH Chair Bruce Irvine says that while the government expects priority users – schools, hospitals and businesses - to be connected to the network in four years, Enable is likely to be close to completing this goal in the next 12 months.

Of the 174 schools in the area, 100 schools are contracted and 60 are already connected. Following a deal with the Canterbury Health Board to provide layer one and two fibre infrastructure, Enable will connect 13 DHB locations and up to 90 percent of the medical practitioners in the area.

So, Luff says, it is now time to look at connecting households to the network

When asked if it the FTTH network would be a GPON deployment, Luff says the architecture is still to be decided. “There are some issues which are around using existing infrastructure as opposed to building from scratch.”

Does that mean they have to consider Telecom’s existing Fibre to the Node deployment, Computerworld asked?

Luff says they have yet to decide how – or even if – they will work with Telecom, or if they will be a direct competitor.

Certainly Telecom had the welcoming mat out for Enable today. It mentioned in its press release this morning that it was open to partnering with Chorus in Christchurch build, and Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds told a press conference:

“I’m very pleased in today we are highlighting our discussions and negotiations with the Christchurch people to create the right deal for Christchurch,” he says. “Christchurch is a major centre for Telecom, we’ve got a lot of employees, a lot of our expertise and physical capability is there. Combination of Telecom’s resources and city council’s resources in the city can combine very rapidly to make Christchurch the world-class connected city that it needs to be in the rebuild. We will begin with discussions straight away.”

IDC analyst Rosalie Nelson, in a recent report, says Christchurch is key area for telco infrastructure. “We estimate that we would see growth 1775 to 20,595 fibre connections. Christchurch would make up 21 percent of total New Zealand fibre connections, roughly on a par with Auckland. For Auckland we estimated it would be 28 percent of total fibre connections,” the report reads.

Meanwhile, Luff, who is due to leave his position as chief executive of the Canterbury Development Corporation to take up a senior management role at Solid Energy, will retain his position as Chair of Enable Networks.

And while Enable Networks will contribute its assets – and its moniker – to the Christchurch Local Fibre Co – an independent chair will be appointed to run the LFC.

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