We’re ready to collaborate
FYI, this story is more than a year old
As a telecommunications services provider, TelstraClear has chosen not to be among those bidding to partner the government in the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative. However, we are keenly awaiting the finalisation of the bid process and for work to start on the subsequent building of the network, because, like all players in the telecommunications market we know the UFB, when it arrives, will be a game changer for the industry.Our position on the UFB is a simple and practical one. Regardless of who ends up building the network, our focus is on providing high quality services both over new fibre and over our own fibre, copper and cable networks nationally. Focusing on making the most of significant change in the New Zealand telecommunications industry is a familiar position for TelstraClear.Clear Communications arrived in New Zealand in 1990, following the deregulation of the telecommunications market in 1989, and offered New Zealanders a real choice of provider for the first time. Shortly afterwards, Saturn Communications was established, providing telephone and cable TV services to Wellington and the Kapiti Coast.We have now had 20 years of investing in telecommunications networks in New Zealand and in the areas where we don’t have our own network; we have significant experience in delivering our services over other networks.Our DNA is built on developing strong partnerships with other operators – including Araneo, Chorus, Citilink, Network Tasman, Vodafone, Northpower and Telecom Wholesale. TelstraClear’s ability to form strong partnerships and its technical ability to deliver a complete end-to-end service to New Zealanders across multiple technologies are the foundations of our approach to the UFB.That is, we are confident we can develop services and products that can take best advantage of a new fibre network and we are confident we can work with successful UFB bidders to deliver these services and products technically over their networks. And we’re ready to collaborate with any network provider.Our only stipulation is that our robust product and operating needs are met:Commercial incentive: The terms must provide an incentive to migrate from copper – i.e. the price and performance of the new service must justify the effort to migrate.Coverage and addressable market: Focusing solely on business, health and education customers will not generate the scale or strategic reach we seek for triple-play services. We have need for scale now – not five or 10 years from now. Currently only copper options give us the scale within the next three to six years.Network-interconnection costs: These must be low and standards must be simple, straightforward and technically competent, so as to support our service reliability. (In addition, we require a maximum of two potential design or interface considerations, and minimal points of interconnection.)Customer premise equipment: Ideally, there will be standard devices and potential for carrier control.Operational systems and support services: These will be well-defined and managed to support our products and services.Geographical priorities: As a potential over-the-top service provider, we have preferences around which mass markets are served first.While our challenge is to prepare for a fibre future, TelstraClear also faces the reality that the roll out of fibre may still be some years off. This means existing access networks will continue to be the underlying network for many consumers and small-to-medium businesses in the medium term. In many cases, copper networks will provide a glide path to fibre as customers embrace new high-bandwidth services. We don’t discount the possibility of further technological developments enhancing the life and usefulness of copper.Developing and delivering products and services over existing networks, whether it is copper or our own HFC network, and making them relevant to a fibre world when it arrives, is part of our current challenge.The reality is investment in the ‘now’ must also continue no matter what the promise of fibre. In line with this, TelstraClear has recently released its own hybrid cable/ IPTV personal video recorder, the T-Box, for use on its cable networks in Wellington, Kapiti and Christchurch. We are also working on piloting the delivery of IPTV over copper using VDSL2 technology.We are also trialling Ultra-Fast Broadband speeds of up to100mbps to selected residential customers in Wellington and Christchurch – these are speeds that are available after a recent $10 million upgrade to our Docsis3 technology.We have asked our triallists to publicly chart their thoughts and ideas on how the speeds could be utilised across the UFB network once it is built as we are keen to gauge reaction to these new speeds and look at how our core group use them.In anticipation of UFB and general growth needs we have completed a successful testing of Ciena’s 100 Gigabit technology across our fibre optic cable network between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to carry multiple light signals at speeds of up to 100Gbps.These are all significant investments and regardless of the balancing act between delivering now, while preparing for imminent and momentous change in our industry, TelstraClear is readying itself today for whatever may eventuate once the key UFB decisions are made.