TelstraClear has shortlisted Ericsson, Nokia, Nortel Networks and Siemens to build its proposed mobile network, which would be the third in New Zealand.
The four were selected after a pre-tender information-gathering exercise and will be issued with detailed requirements of the network in a few weeks' time.
TelstraClear presently resells Vodafone's mobile services to its customers, but chief executive Rosemary Howard says in a statement that the arrangement "doesn't give TelstraClear the control we need".
In May she told Computerworld that the company needs "fixed and wireless, so that whatever way a customer comes in, they can access the same functionality". The problem with the resale arrangement with Vodafone is that "the intelligence is on Vodafone's network, not ours".
TelstraClear seeks to take advantage of a rule allowing a mobile operator who has a network covering 10% of the country to roam on another provider's network.
It won't be the first time a third mobile network has been mooted; Zimbabwe-based Econet Wireless signalled plans to build one and owns spectrum, but little progress has been seen.
Australian telecomms analyst Paul Budde is sceptical of the TelstraClear tender. He says it "must be more of a bluff than anything else", and believes it doesn't make economic sense to launch a third mobile network in New Zealand.
Howard has said that after the current reseller deal with Vodafone ends in a year's time TelstraClear would like to run its own intelligence. That could be done either by building a new network or partnering with an established mobile operator, through a joint venture in which TelstraClear retains control of the service layer.
She says attempts to switch from being a reseller to an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) partner with Vodafone proved unsuccessful and claims Vodafone is "happy to have a cosy duopoly with Telecom".
She says the failure of Econet to produce a network has no relevance as a precedent.
"We're quite different to Econet in that they were a mobile-only entrant and we're an established player. We need mobile to complement our fixed network -- it's quite a different play."