A consortium of electricity lines companies has been added to the list of preferred bidders to roll out ultra-fast broadband to 10 central North Island centres.
Crown Fibre Holdings is the government agency negotiating and awarding contracts for the $1.5 billion nationwide initiative.
It says it will begin negotiations with the Central Fibre Consortium to extend ultra-fast broadband to Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Taupo, Pukekohe, Waiuku, Gisborne, Feilding and Masterton.
Central Fibre Consortium, which consists of Unison Networks, Counties Power, Eastland Group, Horizon Energy Distribution and Central Lines, will join Telecom as a bidder for the areas.
Crown Fibre Holdings has signed deals with Northpower and Ultra Fast Fibre to lay fibre in Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth and Wanganui.
It is still in negotiations with Vector and a Telecom for the much-prized Auckland roll-out and is in talks with other companies, including Telecom, for most other parts of the country.