BCL is tendering for contracts under Probe, the government scheme announced in the budget to bring broadband to the provinces. However, it declines to name its partners in those tenders except for Telecom.
At a presentation last week managing director Geoff Lawson said BCL was a partner in tenders in all 14 regions, but “commercial sensitivity” prevented him naming other partners.
Last week the deadline for consortia to express interest in providing broadband was extended until September 9.
Lawson did say that BCL’s national wireless platform, to be built using Airspan hardware and to run on an IP layer from Ericsson being built on top of BCL’s existing core network, “is open to any regional services provider”. This includes traditional telcos and not-so-traditional ones, such as the Northland virtual telco project.
Lawson says BCL is aiming to cover 97% of New Zealand and use of satellite links may extend its reach further.
BCL has been involved in some way or another in telecommunications for many years, and 25% of its revenue comes from that sector. But Lawson says the state-owned enterprise doesn’t want to be a telecomms retailer, though it does provide telco services for the Maritime Safety Authority, police and other emergency services.
“We don’t want tens of thousands of customers. We want to be a wholesaler, not a retailer.”
The rollout of the wholesale wireless network will cost $40-$100 million, Lawson says, and the Airspan hardware will be leased to the customers of its telco partners using the same model as Sky TV employs with its set-top boxes.
As for the economics, Lawson says BCL plans to begin getting a return on investment within seven years of deploying the network.