Mystery fibre bid may be Canadian

Axia NetMedia won bid for Singapore fibre rollout

Canadian company Axia NetMedia may be the mystery international firm bidding to provide ultrafast Axia NetMediato three-quarters of New Zealand homes and businesses.

The company won a tender in 2008 to deploy fibre to 95 percent of Singapore's 1.5 million homes and businesses by 2012, supported by an S$750 million (NZ$755m) government grant, and has taken part in similar joint ventures in Alberta and 13 regions in France.

Crown Fibre Holdings, which is managing the New Zealand Government's $1.35 billion investment in rolling out fibre as far as streets in 33 cities and towns, said it had received bids from 18 companies, including an unnamed international firm.

Sixteen of the bids are believed to be from electricity lines and fibre companies that are collaborating under the umbrella of the Regional Fibre Group.

Making up the total, Telecom and Axia NetMedia are believed to have put forward competing national proposals.

Axia NetMedia investor relations vice-president Dawn Tinling would not confirm it had lodged a proposal to take part in the Ultrafast Broadband Initiative, noting Crown Fibre Holdings had not identified the specifics of any of the bids in a statement issued on Tuesday.

"We are not going to make any public comment until after Crown Fibre Holdings has made one," she said.

A source said representatives of the company were in New Zealand last month.

Axia NetMedia is traded on the Toronto stock exchange, where it is valued at C$111m (NZ$148m).

The company made a secret submission on the Government's broadband plan last year that was obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act.

Axia said then that fibre networks could be viable if half of homes were connected, but were otherwise a "financial white elephant".

The submission noted that Axia led the OpenNet consortium that brought Singapore incumbent SingTel into Singapore's fibre scheme, implying it might similarly be able to bring Telecom into the fold.

Axia and SingTel each own 30 per cent of the Singapore venture.

Construction of the Singapore fibre network started in May and the first commercial services are due to be provided by June.

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Tags Axia NetMediaCrown Fibre HoldingsNetworking & Telecomms ID

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