Electricity company Counties Power wants to hear from vendors interested in building a WiFi network that will include voice capability.
The company already offers fibre to the home in Franklin and broadband wireless access in Auckland and Hamilton and is now asking for registration of interest in the new proposal.
CEO Neil Simmonds says the company sees a good fit between its existing infrastructure and this proposed expansion.
"It will give us a mobility platform at quite a cheap cost we hope."
Simmonds is hoping potential respondents will be willing to provide a high-level technical overview of how such a service could be provisioned. Once that's done, and assuming the Counties Power board approves the idea, Simmonds says the company would send out a request for proposals.
"We don't want to set a trial date at the moment - we don't want to get caught up promising something if we decide we can't deliver it."
The plan would enable Counties Power's retail partners to sell a fixed-wireless broadband connection coupled with a WiFi access deal that could, potentially allowing users to roam across other WiFi networks. Simmonds says he's engaged in informal talks with other network operators already with that in mind.
Interestingly, Simmonds hopes to also offer a voice over WiFi solution to customers.
"It's probably about 90% as good as a cellphone call at this stage because obviously being on WiFi there are service level assurance issues we can't control."
Simmonds says the move to higher bandwidth WiFi standards, and also to WiMax should the time come, would help improve that quality of service.
"It's not going to replace cellphones but it's a complementary service." Simmonds says he is confident handsets will soon be available that allow users to roam between cellular and WiFi networks.
"I never liked the idea of plugging a headset into a laptop to make a call but fortunately the handset manufacturers are producing dual-mode chips these days."
Interested parties can register their interest here.