Look who's talking? Kordia and Pacific Fibre

Enable Networks chair still keen for a South Island landing

In January Kordia was talking up its Optikor trans-Tasman cable project, but lately the rhetoric has changed, and the SOE now appears to want to work with Pacific Fibre rather than be its rival.

Following REANNZ’s announcement that it was set to sign with Pacific Fibre for international capacity from mid-2014, Kordia issued its own statement conceding it had lost the deal, which involves $15 million government funding.

When Computerworld phoned Kordia CEO Geoff Hunt to see why he had conceded defeat, he was circumspect.

He says the Optikor project was always about lowering the price of international bandwidth and, when asked directly if Kordia could work with Pacific Fibre on providing the New Zealand to Australia leg Hunt replied it was a “distinct possibility”.

"I think somewhere there is an arrangement that works for both parties," he says. "I just come back to our key driver (which is) to lower the cost of bandwidth into New Zealand."

A deal with Optikor would mean Pacific Fibre could secure another foundation customer – the Kordia group, which includes ISP Orcon. But when Computerworld asked Pacific Fibre CEO Mark Rushworth if the two were working together, he said it was not appropriate to comment any further than to say the two parties are communicating. Meanwhile, work on getting the Pacific Fibre bid launched is continuing at a pace, with evaluation on the invitation to tender now underway. Its CTO John Humphrey has announced he will be leaving the role but will retain a shareholding, and the company say it has made new appointments to cover his loss.

Rushworth says that among the most “tricky bits” is getting the permits to land the cable in the US. This can take up to two years.

With regards to landing in New Zealand, there is some advocacy for a second cable landing in the South Island. Enable Networks chair Bill Luff confirmed to Computerworld at the press conference announcing it will partner with the government in Canterbury for the Ultra Fast Broadband initiative that he continues to push for a South Island landing.

“I think Rod (Drury) and Sam (Morgan) have got a lot on their hands to get the deal but the progress looks pretty good. We’re still very keen for them to seriously consider a South Island spur, and these announcements (UFB) make that very necessary," Luff says.

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