Bidder for Wired Country

Wireless network operator in talks with potential buyer

Counties Power is negotiating with a “preferred bidder” over the future of its wireless network, run under the Wired Country brand name.

Counties Power announced in June it was “reviewing” the Wired Country operation following a board decision to consider its options. However, the information memorandum Counties Power sent out revealed terms for sale, including a bid process and timetable for due diligence.

Counties Power chair Paul Muir won’t be drawn on who the bidder is. “Obviously there are matters of confidentiality there and I can’t say any more than that,” he said when contacted by Computerworld last week.

Muir did say the process is expected to take around six weeks.

Counties Power’s Wired Country offers both wireless service, using a fixed wireless network in Auckland and Hamilton with a reach of up to 200,000 premises, and a fibre network in Pukekohe that services up to 1,000 premises. However, the company has only attracted around 2,000 customers, despite an investment of up to $19 million to date.

Wired Country had been operating a wholesale-only model, selling its service to end users via reseller ISPs. Muir says he is disappointed at the level of activity generated by the ISPs, and earlier this year Wired Country began selling directly to customers. Chief executive Neil Simmonds says uptake from that move has been good and direct sales now outstrip resale.

Ihug, one of the original reseller partners, has withdrawn its Wired Country service from offer, although it will retain connection for existing customers. Ihug says it will focus its attentions on reselling Telecom’s DSL service instead.

Ihug offered a voice service using the Wired Country connection, although teething troubles with the network last year meant customers were experiencing problems in both Auckland and Hamilton.

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