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Bids open for Government's UFB expansion

By Shannon Williams, Tue 1 Sep 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Government has announced a Request for Propsals (RFP) for the next stage of rolling out broadband to New Zealanders, Communications Minister Amy Adams says. 

“Four and a half years after the first fibre trench was dug in Whangarei, the Government’s world-leading Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative is more than 50% complete with around 750,000 Kiwis already able to connect to faster, more reliable broadband,” she says.

“New Zealanders are hungry for better connectivity and the initiative has been incredibly successful. That’s why we confirmed in March that we would extend Ultra-Fast Broadband from a target of 75% of New Zealanders to at least 80%,” Adams explains.

“The RFP is a critical step in deciding which communities are next in line to get fibre and what companies will deliver it.”

There are more than 110 towns and communities noted in the RFP as potential areas for inclusion, but Adams says it was important to understand that not all those towns will get fibre and others not listed could also end up with fibre.

“My focus is squarely on getting faster broadband to as many people as possible,” she says.

The RFP’s list of towns encompasses a further 7.5% of New Zealanders to ensure a competitive bid process is created. Adams says tenderers are also invited to build fibre to fringe areas of the first round of UFB towns in addition to the other areas suggested and to suggest other candidate areas for fibre.

The long list is made up of the next largest towns not covered by the first phase of the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative. Adams says these towns have been determined based on current population and projected population sizes in 2023 and informed by council submissions.

“Faster, more reliable connectivity is the single most important thing we can do for regional economic development,’ says Adams.

“We want people living outside the bigger centres to enjoy the economic, health and education benefits that fibre is delivering to 33 of our towns and cities. I encourage network builders to make proposals which will help the Government achieve this next step.”

She says economic analysis of the first stage of the UFB build has found that high-speed broadband could benefit New Zealanders by $32.8 billion over 20 years.

According to Adams, Territorial Authorities have expressed strong interest in the recent Registration of Interest process.

“A large majority of councils are ready to help prospective partners fashion bids which will support speedy and cost-effective UFB deployment in their respective areas, and I encourage network builders to work alongside them,” she explains.

The Crown-owned company, Crown Fibre Holdings, has been charged with running the RFP bid process for the expansion and overseeing the Crown’s investment in the network build.

The Request For Proposals to extend the UFB initiative to at least 80% of the population has been issued by Crown Fibre Holdings and bidders have until 28 October 2015 to respond. The extension is being funded by up to $210 million from the Future Investment Fund.  

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