Telecom lines up new data service

WELLINGTON - Telecom will distribute services in Australia and New Zealand provided by a venture between AT&T and British Telecommunications.

The venture, Concert, offers end-to-end voice, data and internet services to large global companies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, although Concert said it was not an exclusive deal.

Concert already has agreements with Clear Communications in New Zealand, and Japan Telecom Co and Singapore's StarHub.

The biggest United States and British phone companies said in January that Concert would have revenue of about $7 billion this year. They estimated the global telecommunications market was valued at $100 billion.

Concert's high-speed data network reaches every big United States and British city and 170 cities in 47 countries.

"One of the key challenges for international business is streamlining their telecommunications networks and Concert offers a sophisticated but simple way to do it," said Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung.

Telecom shares rose 14c to 925c yesterday.

Telecom said using Concert meant customers would avoid dealing with multiple companies and technologies.

Customers would have one-stop ordering and fault resolution, single billing and the ability to avoid currency complications.

* Meanwhile, Saturn Communications, which is merging with Telstra's New Zealand business unit, has bought internet service provider Paradise.net.

Established in 1997, Paradise has 33,000 subscribers in New Zealand, mostly residential.

Shane Cole, one-third owner and former managing director of Paradise, who will stay with the company, said he hoped to build the internet subscriber base to more than 100,000 over the next year.

Telstra Saturn chief executive Jack Matthews said: "This decision sends a clear signal to our customers and the market that Telstra Saturn is focused and determined to move quickly to build a nationwide state-of-the-art communications company."

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