Hawke’s Bay businesses and consumers can expect more competitive broadband and telecommunications services in the region thanks to an ambitious growth strategy from local internet service provider Airnet.
Airnet, a long-established communications provider, has undergone a major business transformation including shareholder changes which mean the company is now 100% owned by Hawke’s Bay investors and Airnet staff.
The company has also been recapitalised, enabling it to employ more staff so it is ideally positioned to offer a new level of competition in the Hawke’s Bay telco and internet market.
“The telecommunications landscape has shifted significantly with regulatory changes aimed at boosting competition, the de-merger of Telecom and progress towards the Government’s nationwide Ultrafast Broadband network,” says Hamish White, Airnet’s newly appointed CEO.
“This new environment has created an opportunity for Airnet, as a strong regional provider, to play a key role in offering competitive services to businesses and consumers in Hawke’s Bay,” says Hamish.
“We have access to a range of broadband networks delivered over different technologies (fibre-optic cable, phoneline-based DSL and wireless communications) and we are in the unique position of having already negotiated wholesale contracts with two of the region’s fibre-optic network companies: Chorus and Unison Fibre. As a result we can offer our customers the best, most cost-effective broadband plans based on the deals we have secured from competing wholesale providers.”
Airnet is the first telco in the country to sign a retail service provider agreement with Chorus, the network infrastructure business split off from Telecom late last year. Chorus is building the Government’s Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) fibre network in Hawke’s Bay and in a number of other regions. Airnet’s deal with Chorus means Airnet is ready to sell services over the UFB network as the network becomes progressively available to businesses, households, schools, and other organisations.
“We’re delighted to be the first telco to get a retail agreement with Chorus signed off. It’s an indication of how seriously we take our commitment of offering the best telecommunications deals to the people of Hawke’s Bay,” says Hamish.
“We believe regionally-based telecommunications companies like ours are the way forward because they are more in touch with the needs of their communities and more willing to commit the resources needed to maximise the benefits available through technology.”
He says Airnet’s commitment to helping boost the Hawke’s Bay economy goes beyond offering more competitive telecommunications services.
“We’re also keeping jobs in the Bay by employing more staff, including in our new local customer call centre which will be at the heart of the business. Offering excellent customer support through the call centre is one of our top priorities.”
Airnet expects to grow staff number to around 50, with about a further 200 Hawke’s Bay positions supported indirectly through supply agreements and other contracts.
The company’s growth plans include a change of name with a fresh new brand identity to be unveiled next month.
“We’re keeping details under wraps until March but what I can say is that the new brand will have strong parochial ties to the communities we serve and will exude everything you’d expect from a genuine challenger,” says Hamish.
As well as launching new competitive internet services and plans to businesses and home users over coming months, Airnet will also be adding mobile phone services to its product range.