Saturn seeks backer for Auckland cable launch

Saturn Communications continues to seek a business partner to offer financial backing for its planned attack on the Auckland cable television market.

Saturn Communications continues to seek a business partner to offer financial backing for its planned attack on the Auckland cable television market.

Though Telecom's Video Information Service has Auckland to itself at this stage, Hutt Valley-based Saturn still intends to head north and offer consumers an alternative network.

Chief executive Jack Matthews says Saturn is seeking a partner to help fund the venture. "We have had a lot of discussions, but you shouldn't expect to see much before the end of the year as we have got our hands full down here. We will be activating the first phase of our Hutt Valley network at the end of the month," Matthews says.

"I would hope by the end of the year we will have made some fairly concrete plans for the Auckland market. Of course there are no guarantees of that. It is still early days. I believe Saturn and Telecom will be rolling out networks over the next three to four years. Most of the urban areas in New Zealand will have access to one or the other, or maybe both networks in some cases."

Matthews says it will be hard for two or more companies to make a profit operating individual networks in the same areas. He believes it would make better sense for separate cable operators to work off the one network.

"What we don't want to see happen is what is going on in Australia. There you have Foxtel and OptusVision both spending $A4 billion wiring right over the top of each other in the same areas. It is hard to see how either one is going to make any money. It is impossible to envision TVIS making money on a cable service if there is an overbuild. We couldn't, so I don't see how it could."

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