Telecom-BCL score Probe wins

The Telecom-BCL partnership has won three Probe regions, the government announced on Wednesday.

The Telecom-BCL partnership has won three Probe regions, the government announced today.

Waikato, Taranaki and Wellington (including the Kapiti and Horowhenua areas) are to get broadband from Telecom and BCL. That leaves eight regions still to have their provider decided, following Wednesday's announcement and the earlier awarding of contracts for Northland, Southland and the Wairarapa to the rival Vodafone-Walker Wireless consortium.

Probe (provincial broadband extension) was first announced in last year's budget, when a sum of money - which the government wouldn't disclose - was voted for projects to bring broadband to the regions, first in schools and then to the wider community.

(The awarding of a Probe contract doesn't preclude another provider also bringing a broadband service to a region).

According to a statement from Telecom, "almost 98%" of homes in the Waikato, Taranaki and Wellington will be able to get the broadband service, with those areas where it is uneconomic to provide it via DSL receiving it wirelessly over BCL's nationwide fixed wireless network, which is to go live in October.

Telecom will use the BCL network on a wholesale basis, buying capacity and using it to provide services.

The government remains coy about funding, with the official announcement stating "the tender process remains commercially sensitive and while it is still in progress no figures for the overall cost of the project will be released."

Education minister Trevor Mallard told Computerworld at budget time last year that the cost was anything between $20 million and $99 million.

The Northland, Southland and Wairarapa broadband projects were begun before Probe was announced, but subsequently became part of the process and eligible for Probe funding.

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