Tangent, the branch of electricity company Vector that provides metropolitan fibre-fibre telecomms services, will this month complete the merger of the two ethernet networks it now owns.
The two networks, one in Auckland and Wellington previously owned by UnitedNetworks Communications, and Tangent’s own, which covers central and south Auckland, will be managed by the same company.
Tangent general manager Maxine Elliott says the two networks share a common heritage, with Tangent’s being built by putting fibre being put through ducts in the ground and UnitedNetworks’ by blowing fibre through disused gas pipes. “We both leveraged assets we had.”
Tangent outsourced management of its network to Datacraft. That provider will take over management of the former UnitedNetworks network, which was previously managed by HP. The combined network will be managed by a team of 15, comprising mainly former Tangent employees.
Elliott says one of the key benefits for Tangent in acquiring UnitedNetworks’ fibre asset was extending its reach north of Auckland’s harbour bridge to Albany.
“They had a lot of connections into buildings that Tangent didn’t have. It’s doubled the size of the network.”
Gaining UnitedNetworks’ Wellington fibre network and its channel partner website were also bonuses.
“The website was a bit of a windfall — it had a lot of good information, including buildings that fibre is lit to.”
Most customers of the combined network will use it at 2Mbit/s to 10Mbit/s, though Tangent’s fastest legacy customers taking the service at 100Mbit/s and UnitedNetworks’ fastest, HDS, uses speeds of up to 1Gbit/s for the storage networking services it offers to end users.
The new network will have two classes of user: ISPs, and corporates such as HDS, which use the capacity to provide services to their own customers. “We provide connectivity and don’t provide any applications for them.”
The new network has about 30 customers. The company says with both legacy networks having much unused capacity, “there’s huge potential”.
Tangent is trying to figure out its place in the broadband market, Elliott says. “Our parent company is an infrastructure company and we should sit in that space, providing networks and network management.”
Potential expansion areas include providing residential broadband services, possibly through a combination of fibre and wireless. Tangent is continuing a trial begun by UnitedNetworks of power-line communications, sending data over power lines.
Tangent’s Auckland office is in the same building as CityLink, which operates fibre networks in Wellington and Auckland and the two have been talking, Elliott says.
“We’re trying to work together. We don’t want to bang heads. The biggest competition is Telecom.”