Central fibre consortium enters negotiations for UFB

CFH announces another bidder in prioritised negotiations

Crown Fibre Holdings has selected the Central Fibre Consortium for prioritised negotiations in the Ultra Fast Broadband initiative.

The consortium consists of Unison Networks, Counties Power, Eastland Group, Horizon Energy and Central Lines. It covers 10 of the remaining 25 UFB candidate areas – Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Taupo, Pukekohe, Waiuku, Whakatane, Gisborne, Fielding and Masterton.

There are 25 outstanding candidate areas yet to be negotiated for the UFB, and these are now being contested by Telecom in all remaining areas, Enable Networks in Christchurch, Flute Joint Venture in Dunedin, Vector in Auckland, as well as Central Fibre Consortium in the North Island.

CFH chairman Simon Allen says in the CFH announcement that two of the companies in the Central Fibre Consortium already have fibre optic networks, and he welcomed the competition in negotiations with Telecom. “It is great to have Telecom and the Central Fibre Consortium contesting the opportunity to become the Crown’s partner for UFB in regional cities such as Napier and Palmerston North, as well as smaller centres like Whakatane and Masterton,” he says.

ICT Minister Steven Joyce also released a statement welcoming the CFH announcement: “This ensures the Crown has competitive options that will deliver the best overall solution for taxpayers and consumers.”

CFH has been in negotiations over who it will partner with in the 33 UFB candidate areas since January 2010 when the initial responses were received. In June last year bidders were asked to submit refined proposals. In September prioritised negotiations with three bidders were announced. Two subsequently were able to sign deals - Ultra Fast Fibre, a consortium of lines companies covering the central North Island (including Tauranga, Hamilton and New Plymouth) and Northpower covering Whangarei.

In December Telecom, Enable and Flute became prioritised bidders for the remaining 25 candidate areas. In February Vector became a prioritised bidder for Auckland and today it is announced that Central Fibre Consortium is a prioritised bidder.

There are seven other bidders which are currently shortlisted and which may yet be elevated to 'prioritised negotiation' status.

Two questions

Computerworld has asked CFH via their media spokesperson two questions following today’s announcement:

When are you going the sign the deal(s) with one or more of these parties in the remaining 25 candidate areas?

Will the Christchurch build be prioritised (following the disruption caused by last month’s earthquake, InternetNZ and the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development have suggested it would make sense to lay fibre when mending roads etc)?

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