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Current as of 19/12/14 07:40PM NZST

Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Phone-box hotspot trial nears end

Telecom keeps mum on plans for WiFi network with 430 sites aimed at business and retail customers.

Photo / File
Photo / File

Telecom's network of WiFi hotspots at phone boxes around New Zealand can benefit business as well as retail customers, says one of the company's executives.

The telecommunications provider has offered internet access to the public at phone boxes around the country since last summer.

This year it extended this service to more phone boxes as part of a trial and there are now about 430 internet hotspots around New Zealand, with more than 180 in suburban and central Auckland.

This trial is due to finish this month and while the service is free for now, the company is not saying if or how it plans to release the product commercially.

During Telecom's full-year results presentation, chief executive Simon Moutter indicated this WiFi product would be integrated into the telco's mobile services but it is not clear exactly how this would work.

Although the service was marketed more at consumers during the trial, Gen-i chief executive Tim Miles said business customers would also benefit from the WiFi hotspots.

Miles said when business customers want data "they want big dollops of it at a very good speed".

"If that's the cellular network, the [4G] network, that's fine. If it's WiFi, that's fine," Miles said.

"As a business customer [if] you're out and about and on your cellular network and you had the opportunity to use another delivery mechanism that gave you an advantage you're going to be happy to do that. Particularly if it's seamless and you don't have to do anything," he said.

Gen-i, Telecom's information technology arm that provides services to business and government customers, employed 2046 full-time staff as at June 30. This was cut down by 426 from last year's 2462 staff as part of a company-wide restructure.

Asked if staff numbers were likely to change significantly this year, Miles said any move was unlikely to be "as graphic as what [Gen-i] has had".

The business unit's adjusted revenue was down 5.54 per cent in the last financial year and Miles said the market was "hugely competitive".

He could not predict revenue or earnings in the coming year.

"I'm not here telling you there's going to be stellar growth in the next year or so."

Miles said he could not say if Gen-i had maintained market share in the broadband and mobile space.

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