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Vodafone's secret plan for fibre too secret to share ... even with the minister

With the deadline for Crown fibre submissions come and gone, communications and IT minister Steven Joyce says Vodafone has not put forward its “private plan.”

In its public submission on Mr Joyce’s Crown fibre discussion document, Vodafone shared Telecom’s criticism of the 25 local fibre company model, saying it could fragment both technology and investment.

However, the telco did not go as far as Telecom, which put forward two alternative proposals, both centring on its Chorus division managing a single national fibre network (read Vodafone, TelstraClear, farmers take sides in fibre war).

The Dominion Post reported that Vodafone's was also privately lobbying Mr Joyce, putting forward a proposal that would see Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone pool their fibre network assets into a new business that would be jointly owned by the three telcos and the Crown.

That would certainly liven up discussion.

But it may never be. A week after the submission deadline, a spokeswoman for Mr Joyce's office told NBR: “Vodafone said at a meeting that they might have another approach to have a look at around some form of co-investment. The minister told them that this was the time to present any other ideas but we're yet to hear back.”

Vodafone has yet to return NBR's invitation to comment on the issue.

The Crown fibre process has now moved on to its next stage, which the minister is due to report to cabinet at the end of this month on the 105 submissions received.  Mr Joyce told NBR he would initially view summarised version of the submission heap, compiled by MED officials.

The Crown Fibre Investment Company, which will choose private investors for each of the up to 25 local fibre companies, is due to be formally established during June.

More by By Chris Keall