10 May 2010

Vodafone, Canadian company in joint broadband bid

10:45 pm on 10 May 2010

Vodafone is behind a bid by Canadian company Axia Net Media to participate in the Government's $1.5 billion roll-out of ultra-fast broadband.

Axia Net Media, which has contracts to roll-out fibre in Singapore and France, is proposing to build a new fibre optic network in New Zealand.

Axia and Vodafone say commercial sensitivities prevented them from disclosing their alliance until Monday.

If Axia's bid is successful, Vodafone says it has the option of taking an equity stake in a company that would be set up, as well as being a retailer of the wholesale network.

Axia believes it is well qualified to deliver a world-class broadband network in New Zealand. Chief executive Art Price says it has completed a network in Alberta, Canada, where it had to deal with permafrost and vast distances.

Mr Price says in many respects, conditions there are comparable to New Zealand, though a network build in New Zealand would be easier.

The Axia-Vodafone bid will compete against separate bids from Telecom and Vector.

The Government is in negotiations with bidders for the roll-out and will announce the winner in October this year.