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Fibre Watch: Let me be the first...

08 Sep 2011
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Government-owned ISP Orcon is the latest to claim a UFB first, through a press release this week proclaiming it had connected the first four schools, in Northland, to the network.

Amongst the four connections is Manaia View Primary School, which was in the news back in December last year when it notched up an earlier milestone – as the first school to receive new fibre cabling as part of the UFB project. This was an event celebrated by Communications Minister Steven Joyce at the time.

Joyce is becoming an expert cable-layer. Last week he helped Chorus staff lay the first fibre as part of the Wellington UFB roll-out, and the week before he was in Auckland giving their colleagues a hand to do the same for the first deployment in the City of Sales.

Back in July, UFB deployment contract winner Ultrafast Broadband Ltd announced it had run fibre past the premises of the first customer on its network. The customer, it admitted, would still need to wait for 'a few months' before the technology was in place to enable the connection to be lit.

So we seem to be having a lot of celebrations over some very early milestones. But why not? As Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett said this week of the schools connection: "This is about the transformation of the telecommunications marketplace, not just the infrastructure, and it’s an exciting time to be in our industry.”

Orcon, recently voted ISP of the year in the NetGuide Web Awards, may as well kick up its heels and celebrate. Its parent company, state-owned enterprise Kordia, announced a mixed financial result last week as it grapples with the demise of what used to be its core business: analogue television transmission.

The business seems to have given up on plans to enter the trans-Tasman fibre cable market. This news prompted a happy tweet from Rod Drury, whose Pacific Fibre is having more success with its international cable plans.

Although if this report is to be believed, maybe getting into the cable game is risky because the new 'three strikes' copyright law is apparently scaring people away from the internet.

What can we make of all this? Life is short. Business is hard. So if you do achieve a ‘first’, by all means, tell the world and celebrate.