Giant joins broadband battle

By John Cousins

Telecom said its large customer base meant it had to be careful processes for the rollout were absolutely right. Photo / APN
Telecom said its large customer base meant it had to be careful processes for the rollout were absolutely right. Photo / APN

Competition for the lucrative ultra-fast broadband market is about to heat up in Tauranga with industry giant Telecom announcing a Bay-wide launch in the next few months.

The announcement follows Mount Maunganui resident Ross Linney's frustration at not being able to access ultra-fast fibre optic cables through Telecom, even though the cables had been available at his gate since September 2012.

Mr Linney said he has been unable to pin down Telecom on when he could connect into the cables that run along his street, despite the fact that six other internet providers in Tauranga were ready to sign him up.

"It does not seem right to me."

He has been a Telecom customer since shifting to Tauranga and wants to stick with xtra and his email address.

Contractor Ultrafast Fibre Ltd is installing ultra fast cables around Tauranga as part of the Government's nationwide rollout.

Mr Linney said that when he phoned Telecom to inquire when he could hook into ultra-fast broadband, he was told it was not available in his area.

When he tried to determine when it would be available, he was told it was commercially sensitive information.

When he explained TrustPower had offered him an ultra-fast package, the Telecom representative promised to call back.

When she did not get back, he tried again and was told it was because Telecom did not have a relationship with Tauranga's installer Ultrafast Fibre.

Another obstacle was that Telecom wanted to preserve its investment in the copper telecommunications cable network on which most people had their phone lines, he was told.

Telecom spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton disagreed that the copper network had anything to do with why the company had not launched its Ultra Fibre services into Tauranga.

"We are really keen to get customers on to fibre.

"While we don't have a firm launch date, we hope to make the product widely available in the region within the next few months."

Technical testing had started and the next step was to trial Ultra Fibre product with selected customers in neighbourhoods where ultra-fast fibres had been laid.

Asked why Telecom had not launched into Tauranga, Mrs Fullarton said that ultra-fast fibre was not always an easy product to connect up because the work required to install it varied from property to property.

"We have been cautious not to rush Ultra Fibre to market, by learning as we go from the areas where we've rolled it out so far."

Each local fibre contractor had its own systems and processes which Telecom had to align with before it could launch Ultra Fibre, she said.

Unlike smaller competitors who could do a more bespoke ultra-fast system, Telecom's much larger customer base meant it had to be careful that its processes were absolutely right.

Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) impact on Tauranga business

*Has the potential to accelerate the growing marine, horticultural and technology sectors.
*Economic development agency Priority One says UFB was possibly the single most important element in its strategy to retain, grow and attract highly productive businesses.
*Pivotal for the 550-member Western Bay information and communications technology cluster.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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