Setting a more moderate, fibre-friendly tone than the Castalia report, Telecom says it wants to “play a major role” in bringing fibre to every doorstep – and that it wouldn’t look to make "a single dollar profit" on a taxpayer-funded network.
Following Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce’s speech this morning, which could be read as a rejection of the Castalia report in its strong support of upgrading from copper as soon as possible, Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds issued an olive-branch statement saying:
“Telecom now looks forward to the provision of further details around the scheme, and to playing a major role in its realisation. We stand ready, willing and able.”
A spokesman told NBR the Telecom executive’s earlier comments about wanting a 20% return on network infrastructure investment were related to the debate over so-called “sub-loop unbundling” (that is, the rate that Telecom Wholesale could charge for access to Telecom’s new roadside cabinets, which help shorten the gap between fibre at the exchange and copper to the home).
In terms of the government’s proposed fibre-to-the-premise network, which would involve a $1.5 billion state contribution, Dr Reynolds says “We will not seek to make a single dollar of profit from taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
“We do not think Telecom or any other private sector company should profit from the taxpayer’s contribution to the network.”
Reacting to the Castalia report, Tuanz said Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone were looking for time to squeeze more return from today’s copper-dominated networks.
But the report’s five-year window does gel with the minister’s apparent time frame. Although he saw the first ground being broken this year, and expressed the importance of fibre-to-the-premise as for economic stimulus and positioning New Zealand to quickly recover from the recession, Mr Joyce set a relaxed time-frame overall, with schools, hospitals, businesses and "the first tranche of homes" connected within six years, and the balance of homes within 10.
A spokesman for Telecom said the telco's position on fibre-to-the-home has remained consistent.