Power company just wants to wire the country

Legal posturing might be a hallmark of telecommunications competition but one of the country's newest network providers is determined to avoid it.

Legal posturing might be a hallmark of telecommunications competition but one of the country’s newest network providers is determined to avoid it.

Wired Country, the broadband arm of Pukekohe-based electricity lines company Counties Power, says open access is its goal as it develops fibre-based and wireless offerings for business and residential subscribers.

Wired Country general manager Mike Lancaster says far from being happy to see competitors BCL and Walker Wireless tied in up court action, he’s glad the two have reached a settlement. They announced yesterday that they’d put aside a wrangle over potential network interference, sparked when state-owned BCL sought a judicial review of a spectrum licence granted to Walker.

“It’s all about giving people choice,” Lancaster says, as his organisation goes about signing up partners to sell services over its fibre and radio networks. Hamilton-based Wave Internet is the latest of four ISPs to agree to act as a Wired Country reseller.

Wired Country has been in operation since last October, laying fibre in Pukekohe and readying a wireless network using 3.5GHz licensed radio spectrum. The radio network, which Lancaster says will have a 30km line-of-sight reach, will be ready for testing in June and commercial roll-out a month later.

Not just internet access will be on offer; Lancaster says voice services are also planned, with TelstraClear a likely “pioneer partner” for their provision.

“This is all about one connection for a full range of services.” Those could also include pay TV, featuring local content, he says.

“We want to offer a service to our beneficial shareholders. We’re not looking to make a killing; we want to make prices as sharp as possible.”

But actual services and prices will be determined by partners. Wave Internet marketing manager Wayne Attwell says the company will sell services from 128Kit/s up to 2Mbit/s, at prices in the vicinity of $60 to $65 a month.

The attaction of the Wired Country deal is only partly that it gives Wave potential customers beyond Huntly, which is the ISP’s northern limit. Wave can see potential for spreading southwards, as well, through a broadband joint venture between Wired Country and Te Kuiti-based The Lines Company, which manages power lines throughout the King Country.

“We’re trying to provide coverage to the central north island,” Attwell says.

Aside from Wave, Wired Country has ISP deals with ICONZ, Ihug and Packing Shed.

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