Unison to Enter Telecommunications Market
Electricity lines company Unison Networks today announced its intention to enter the telecommunications market with a high speed fibre optic rollout of broadband.
Unison Chief Executive Ken Sutherland said the move marks the beginning of an exciting new direction for Unison that will eventually see the company providing high speed broadband services to businesses and the wider community in Hawke’ Bay, Rotorua and Taupo.
“It’s a positive investment in terms of leading these areas forward in technology, communications, innovation and economic growth,” Mr Sutherland said.
“We are planning for the future by putting in place a fibre cable backbone that will improve Unison’s network communications and also provide huge capacity for broadband data services to businesses and the community.
Unison gained Network Operator Status for Telecommunications purposes from the Government on 17 August 2009. This status allows the company to provide telecommunication services over its network.
Unison’s investment is in line with the Government’s commitment of making ultra fast broadband available to 75 per cent of New Zealanders where they live, work and study over the next ten years, Mr Sutherland said.
A new subsidiary, Unison Fibre, has been established to undertake and manage Unison’s telecommunications business.
The first stage of the rollout will involve laying 44km of high speed fibre optic cable in Hawke’s Bay from Hastings to Napier with the aim of upgrading communications to 80 per cent of electricity distribution substations in urban areas by the end of the year.
“Broadband is an enabler of economic growth and there are about 300 existing Hawke’s Bay businesses including some large data users on the route as well as the region’s major education, health providers and local authorities,” Mr Sutherland said.
Unison will progressively roll out the fibre cable to cover all the main commercial and business areas of Hawke’s Bay. Depending on demand and uptake it will then extend these services to include Taupo and Rotorua.
“As a lines company and a member of the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group, Unison is already up to speed with what is required and has the ‘know how’ to undertake the rollout.
Unison Fibre will be a truly open access platform, enabling retail competition for voice, broadband and other telecommunication services. It will benefit regional players and create a real alternative to Telecom’s Chorus network.
Unison Fibre’s model for access is that both lit and point-to-point dark fibre services will be provided.
Unison Fibre will be linking into all the main back haul operators to ensure maximum uptake of services, Mr Sutherland said.
Unison is one of New Zealand’s largest electricity distribution businesses supplying more than 100,000 customers connected to networks in Rotorua, Taupo and Hawke’s Bay.