Telecom's Reynolds claims step-change in broadband

NZ rollout one of the most ambitious in the world, says CEO

Telecom New Zealand's CEO, Paul Reynolds, is claiming significant gains both for New Zealand and for his company in broadband performance.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with Television Hawke's Bay that goes to air tonight, Reynolds claims Telecom's own broadband services have improved by 50% in the last three months, according to data from broadband benchmarking company Epitiro.

Reynolds was also at pains to highlight the scale of New Zealand's broadband build-out.

"What's under way right now is probably one of the most ambitious broadband programmes in the world," he told veteran interviewer David Beatson, host of the station's Chatroom programme.

He claims New Zealand had overtaken the UK in broadband and our services are now the sixth cheapest in the world.

Reynolds says Telecom is using the best technology in the world for its 3G mobile network build, due to be completed by the middle of next year and covering 97% of the population. The fibre rollout through cabinetisation is similarly ambitious, he says, reaching 85% of the population.

Reynolds defended Telecom's sale of the Yellow Pages, saying the deal, which happened before he was appointed CEO, was a good one at a good price. The cash raised is being put to good use, he says, funding Telecom's $2.4 billion network investment.

Reynolds says Telecom is employing just about everybody left in New Zealand with the skills to roll out networks and is also importing people to get the job done. An example is fibre being rolled out on the West Coast from Greymouth, through Hokitika and towards Haast.

Reynolds says Telecom applied for Labour's Broadband Investment Fund and National's broadband commitment is also welcome. He hopes to work with the government to ensure investments add to what has already been or is being built.

He reiterated earlier comments that Telecom's shareholders deserve a "reasonable return" for their investment on these networks.

On a more personal level, Reynolds also revealed he is a Celtic supporter, a geek Mac user and a keen trout fisherman.

Beatson then asked if he played golf.

"You can't play golf and be a trout fisherman," Reynolds replied. "Not if you want any family life."

TVHB's Chatroom screens tonight at 7.30 nationwide on satellite channels SkyTV 89 and Freeview 21. It will be available online after the broadcast.

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