Collective targets Otago and Southland fibre build

Flute Network joint venture promises regional approach

Organisations are continuing to position themselves for a piece of the government's $1.5 billion fibre rollout, with the latest being a consortium targeting network builds in Otago and Southland.

Flute Network, a joint venture between Aurora Energy, Electricity Invercargill and The Power Company, is currently developing a proposal to co-invest to deploy and operate fibre optic infrastructure as part of the Crown’s ultra-fast broadband initiative.

Flute’s formation follows that of another collective just announced in December — the Waikato-based WEL consortium.

Aurora Energy and PowerNet, the management company representing the other two Flute partners, are, like the Waikato consortium, part of the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group (NZRFG), a collective of 19 lines and fibre companies.

Aurora Energy's CEO, Grady Cameron, says existing infrastructure will allow electricity companies to deploy fibre quickly.

“We have comprehensive lines networks in place already and are more focused on regional economic development, spill-over, social and environmental outcomes than those traditional telecommunication players, whose motivation is more purely commercial,” Cameron says.

"Our assets are critical to the regions and so broadly spread throughout these areas that it makes sound commercial sense to add fibre optic cabling to our poles or underground ducting."

NZRFG says the government can expect bids from a number of members — some consortium driven and others individual.

PowerNet CEO Martin Walton says the Flute approach to fibre will be regional, not just focused in urban areas.

“In an infrastructure sense that means we’ll be focusing on urban fibre, regional backhaul and rural hybrid deployments,” he says.

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