15 Feb 2019

Vodafone, Vocus trial early broadband unbundling from Chorus

11:46 am on 15 February 2019

Internet providers Vodafone and Vocus have decided to take on telecommunciations network operator Chorus over contol of some of the ultra-fast broadband fibre network.

white router includes two green cable connectors rg45, home router

Photo: 123RF

They have taken control of some physical lines in the central Auckland suburb or Parnell in a trial, known as unbundling.

A law change is due to come into effect next year which will allow internet service providers to install their own equipment, offer faster speeds and decide on content and pricing.

The changes need NZX-listed Chorus, which was split off as the lines operator from Spark predecessor Telecom's retail arm in 2008 and runs most of the country's broadband and copper lines, to negotiate on pricing.

Vocus chief executve Mark Callander said the battle was worth the effort and multi-million dollar cost.

"With an unbundled connection, we have complete control over the signal which lets us ramp up innovation and bring even more services to market."

Mr Callander said unbundling could drop broadband prices for customers, because it would reduce the cost it pays lines companies.

He said Vocus - which operates the Slingshot and Orcon brands - and Vodafone wanted to unbundle their entire network nationwide, but lines companies across the country would fight back.

"They will have little incentive to make it easy for us."

Chorus general manager Ian Bonnar said it told Vocus and Vodafone to wait to unbundle their network when a regulatory change due in January next year comes into force, but they refused.

He said their engagement had not been constructive, and Mr Callander's comments were unfair while Chorus was consulting with the industry.

"They're just demanding something early."

Chorus has sent proposals to providers about how the unbundling of networks would work.

Mr Bonnar said Chorus would prefer to carry out the physical cutting of fibre cables themselves, to monitor contractors altering the infrastructure.

While Chorus had not forecast the cost of unbundling, or who would bear it, he said the price tag would be several million dollars.

He said he did not expect other internet providers to take up the opportunity after the change in regulation because of the high cost.

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