Fonterra puts broadband plans on hold

Fonterra subsidiary agricultural web developer Fencepost has scaled back its plans to offer broadband services to its rural customers and is instead adopting a 'watching brief', says CEO Kris Nygren.

Fonterra subsidiary agricultural web developer Fencepost has scaled back its plans to offer broadband services to its rural customers and is instead adopting a "watching brief", says CEO Kris Nygren.

In January the country's largest dairy company, Fonterra, put out a request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a separate rural broadband network to service farmers and remote communities.

After drawing up a short-list and selecting a partner, rumoured to be BCL, Fonterra has now decided to wait and see what happens with the government's regional broadband plan, Project Probe.

"We put out an RFP because there was no movement at that stage. We decided we should push this along and since then a lot has happened. We haven't pulled out, we're still working on this project, but we're working with Project Probe and so on and it looks really promising."

Nygren says he hopes Project Probe will deliver the broadband solution Fonterra was working towards.

"We're keeping a keen interest. It'll be a while yet before we see if our requirements are going to be met. We're keeping in discussions with the various players. It's a watching brief."

Nygren wouldn't be drawn on the recent announcement from Telecom about the cost of the telecommunications share obligation (TSO) and the place rural users have in the greater scheme of things.

"I don't get involved in that whole side of things. That's the play between the telcos and from our point of view we can see the problems that our shareholders and suppliers have just getting connected and we'd like to see a solution to it."

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