'Strong' interest in UnitedNetworks sale

Interest in buying UnitedNetworks Communications, the branch of electricity lines company UnitedNetworks that runs ethernet networks in Auckland and Wellington, is strong, says Deutsche Bank New Zealand vice-president Andrew Hurst.

Interest in buying UnitedNetworks Communications, the branch of electricity lines company UnitedNetworks that runs ethernet networks in Auckland and Wellington, is strong, says Deutsche Bank New Zealand vice-president Andrew Hurst.

United’s parent company, US-based Aquila, is seeking to offload its 70% stake in the company and Hurst says Deutsche Bank, which is advising United on the sale, has received “strong interest across both the total business and the separate business units; the phone has run hot”.

Expressions of interest in United closed on Friday, Hurst says.

UnitedNetworks Communications is trialling PLC (power line communications), the transmission of broadband over powerlines, on a small scale on Auckland’s North Shore, says general manager Sean McDonald (pictured right), “but to talk about a commercial rollout is pure speculation”.

United has been evaluating PLC for the past year, he says, and while it may have a role to play in bringing broadband to some users, McDonald told Computerworld in May that “our research suggests it’s not the answer to all business and residential customers’ problems”.

McDonald says care needs to be taken when working out commercial models for PLC and that the number of potential customers who can be served from a transformer and how far from a transformer they are is vital to commercial viability.

United has between 150 and 250 transformers which would allow potential PLC access to 8000 homes in Auckland and Wellington, he says.

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