Waikato Networks UFB buy signals fibre confidence

Waikato Networks has taken full ownership Ultrafast Fibre three and a half years ahead of schedule. The move is a further vote of confidence in the New Zealand government’s plan to build a wholesale fibre network covering urban areas.

The company, a subsidiary of WEL Networks paid $189 million to buy Ultrafast Fibre which was jointly owned with Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH).

Ultrafast Fibre is the local fibre company for the central North Island. It has fibre installed in Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Tauranga, Hawera, Tokoroa, New Plymouth and Whanganui. The company’s fibre network reaches 190,000 homes.

At the time of writing the company has connected 51,000 end users, an uptake of 28 percent.

While CFH is no longer a shareholder, the government agency will maintain contractual oversight over products, network performance and customer connections until 2019.

Communications Minister Amy Adams says: “On settlement, the Crown will have received $189 million, or 95 percent, of its original $198 million investment, three and a half years early. This deal delivers enormous value for money for taxpayers.”

And so it is. Despite a low uptake in its early years and a few regulatory niggles, New Zealand’s ultrafast broadband roll-out has been a success. Just compare what is happening here with the continuing NBN mess in Australia.