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New Zealand: Govt's Stipulation to Winner of Rural Broadband Contract
Source: radionz.co.nz
Source Date: Saturday, November 13, 2010
Focus: Public Institutions
Country: New Zealand
Created: Nov 15, 2010

The Government says whoever wins the multi-million dollar contract for rural broadband services must provide open access to its competitors.

Five proposals have been received for its rural broadband initiative, when tenders closed at lunchtime on Friday.

The Government is offering $300 million to companies to roll out ultra fast internet to 97% of rural schools, and a minimum five megabits broadband service to 80% of rural households within six years.

Rival firms Vodafone and Telecom announced a joint bid to provide fast internet services to rural areas.

Neither firm will say how much extra the work will cost them, but under the agreement, Vodafone would build 154 access towers, while Telecom's Chorus arm would roll out the fibre on the ground to schools, hospitals, cell sites and rural exchanges.

Communications Minister Steven Joyce says one of the initiative's requirements is that any Government-funded fibre and infrastructure will be open for other providers to access.

Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners says although the two firms are fierce rivals in the retail space, a partnership to build the infrastructure is a cost-effective way forward.

Mark Ratcliffe, who heads Telecom's ultra-fast broadband programme, says the arrangement would benefit everyone, builds off common infrastructure and avoids unnecessary duplication.

Both companies say these wireless and fibre services would be available to other providers.

Mr Joyce is expected to make a decision by Christmas.
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