24 Feb 2014

Progress good on UFB programme - Chorus

7:27 pm on 24 February 2014

Chorus's first-half net profit fell more than 7 percent but the company says it's making good progress on rolling out its part of the Government's ultra fast broadband (UFB) programme.

Net profit fell to $78 million in the six months to December from $84 million in the same period a year earlier, although sales rose 1.8 percent.

Chorus expects changes to its contract to build the ultra-fast broadband network.

Chorus expects changes to its contract to build the ultra-fast broadband network. Photo: RNZ

Chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said the company was making good progress in reshaping the business but was having to accelerate this in the face of the Commerce Commission forcing it to slash wholesale prices.

Mr Ratcliffe said he hoped to announce shortly changes to Chorus' contract with Crown Fibre Holdings to build the UFB network to help the company cope with the price cuts.

Chorus is responsible for building about 70 percent of the Government's UFB network and Mr Ratcliffe said the cost-per-premises of its network had come in about 4 percent below target.

"Our UFB build programme is now at full speed - we're about a quarter of the way through the overall programme," he said.

"As anticipated, the roll-out is becoming more and more like a production line. We have targetted cost contracts for service companies to continue driving costs down, and we're running competitive tendering in selected areas."

The company had spent more than $1.1 billion on fibre networks and capability since its split from Telecom two years ago.

Total broadband connections increased by 20,000 in the latest six months and fibre broadband connections doubled.

As previously signalled, Chorus would not be paying a first-half dividend. However it expected its full-year operating profit would be at the top end of its guidance for a flat result to a small decline compared with the $654 million operating profit it reported for the 2013 financial year.