UFB rollout kicks off in Auckland

Governance relationship between Crown Fibre and Chorus yet to be revealed

Chorus kicked off its Ultra Fast Broadband network with a Ministerial photo opporunity in Auckland yesterday.

ICT Minister Steven Joyce was on hand to help pull the fibre from the truck and feed it into a pit in the ground during part of a roadside ceremony that took place in Albany, a business hub on the city's North Shore.

It was the second UFB fibre launch Joyce attended this week – there was a similar ceremony to mark the start of the network in Tauranga on Tuesday – but it was the first time for Chorus.

Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe says Chorus is not a Local Fibre Co like the other UFB partners – Northpower in Whangarei, WEL Energy (and others) in the central North Island, and Enable Networks in Christchurch.

Chorus is set to receive $929 million from the $1.35 billion fund to roll out fibre in 70 percent of designated UFB area. The funding will be a 50/50 split of debt and equity which is to be repaid over 15-25 years. (It is understood the other partners will be expected to repay their taxpayer contribution in less than 10 years, so that the Local Fibre Company effectively becomes a private company by 2020).

However the governance relationship between Crown Fibre Holdings — the government agency responsible for the UFB contracts — and Chorus will not be revealed until Telecom shareholders receive information regarding the proprosed structural separation.

The deal between Chorus and CFH is the contingent on Telecom shareholders voting in favour of the demerger.

Albany is among the first of Chorus areas to receive UFB fibre. Work in Ashburton, Blenheim, Dunedin, Masterton, Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Taupo and Wellington is expected to begin before Christmas.

Chorus says UFB deployment plans for Feilding, Gisborne, Greymouth, Invercargill, Kapiti, Levin, Nelson, Oamaru, Pukekohe, Queenstown, Timaru, Waiheke Island, Waiuku and Whakatane are still being developed.

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Tags mark ratcliffeCrown Fibre HoldingsUFBChorusSteven Joycetelecom

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