12 Nov 2010
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Telecom and Vodafone join forces for rural broadband

Telecom and Vodafone have submitted a joint response to the Rural Broadband Initiative, which aims to provide fibre to 97% of rural schools and a minimum 5Mbps broadband service to 80% of rural households within six years.

The proposed solution aims to meet the requirements of the scheme through the extension of Telecom’s existing fibre infrastructure to key rural points of presence.

The proposal extends Telecom’s 10Mbps+ rollout to 92% of the country and Telecom will be responsible for building fibre to schools and hospitals, cell sites and rural exchanges and cabinets.

“This solution sees New Zealand’s two largest telecommunications providers combining their extensive resources and skills to bring the benefits of high speed broadband to rural communities as quickly as possible,” said Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds.

Vodafone will be responsible for the design and build of open access tower infrastructure that Vodafone and Telecom XT will co-locate their mobile services on, “as well as any other wireless service provider who wishes to do so”.

Both Telecom and Vodafone will also be making additional investments in their networks in the areas covered by the RBI scheme to offer broadband services to their customers.

Vodafone CEO, Russell Stanners, added, “We want to provide the best technology fit, giving the best bang-for-buck for the New Zealand taxpayer. Wireless is now recognised internationally as playing a critical role in reaching rural areas, where it is the most efficient way to deliver high speed internet access.  The spin-off benefit of building more cell sites to deliver a broadband service to homes and businesses is the significant expansion of mobile voice, SMS and data coverage in rural New Zealand.”

Update: That was quick. TelstraClear Chief Executive Allan Freeth has come out and applauded the news.

Update 2: Gen-i has come out saying Vodafone and Telecom's partnership will help the rural industry develop and export intellectual property.

Update 3: 2degrees has come out saying it's worried about a rural "duopoly".

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