NZ Govt rejects Turnbull’s HFC cable approach



news The New Zealand Government has reportedly explicitly rejected a proposal by Vodafone NZ which would have seen the country take a similar approach to the re-use of existing HFC cable assets in its own national broadband network rollout as the new Coalition Government is proposing to take in Australia.

The New Zealand Government is currently engaged in a wide-scale broadband deployment project dubbed the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative. Like the Australian Labor Party’s National Broadband Network project, the effort is based around the deployment of Fibre to the Premises technology throughout the country. New Zealand has a stated aim of delivering broadband speeds of 100Mbps to 75 percent of the population by 2019.

In March Vodafone NZ chief executive Russell Stanners wrote to the government company overseeing the rollout, Crown Fibre Holdings, proposing that the company substantially modify its rollout to take advantage of existing HFC cable assets owned by Vodafone.

“Vodafone is keen to support Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) and the Government to ensure the success of the Ultrafast Broadband initiative,” a Vodafone NZ spokesperson said in a statement, although they declined to make the letter available publicly. “CFH is currently engaging with [wholesale telco] Chorus to explore ways of solving the funding issues that have arisen as a result of the adjustment in copper wholesale pricing.”

“Vodafone wrote to CFH earlier this month to share its perspectives on the issues – the letter was copied to [ICT Minister} Hon Amy Adams and [Former ICT Minister] Hon Steven Joyce. Clearly there is a funding gap to be bridged by Chorus, CFH and the industry. One of the suggestions in the letter was that CFH should promote and allow Chorus and the other [local fibre companies] to leverage existing fibre assets to build out the UFB network.”

“Vodafone – and other parties – have existing compatible fibre assets which could be contributed, and thereby reduce the build cost by eliminating overbuild.”

If Crown Fibre Holdings and the New Zealand Government had agreed to re-use Vodafone NZ’s infrastructure as part of the UFB project, it would have meant the project would have taken on some of the aspects of the Coalition’s Broadband Network model which the current Australian Government is currently proposing.

Under Labor’s NBN policy, some 93 percent of Australian premises were to have received fibre directly to the premise, delivering maximum download speeds of up to 1Gbps and maximum upload speeds of 400Mbps. The remainder of the population was to have been served by a combination of satellite and wireless broadband, delivering speeds of up to 25Mbps.

Originally, the Coalition’s policy was to have seen fibre to the premises deployed to a significantly lesser proportion of the population — 22 percent — with 71 percent covered by fibre to the node technology, where fibre is extended to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ and the remainder of the distance to premises covered by Telstra’s existing copper network. The Coalition’s policy was also to continue to use the HFC cable network operated by Telstra and would also target the remaining 7 percent of premises with satellite and wireless.

However, NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December last year changed the paradigm, with the company recommending (and the Coalition supporting) a vision in which up to a third of Australian premises will be served by the HFC cable networks of Telstra and Optus, and Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement used in other areas not already covered by Labor’s FTTP approach.

Similarly to the way that Vodafone NZ offered to provide its HFC cable network to CFH to cut the cost of the UFB rollout, NBN Co is believed to be currently negotiating with Telstra and Optus to bring their HFC cable networks into the Coalition’s Broadband Network.

Both governments are currently dominated by conservative/right-wring coalitions — in Australia, the Liberal/National Coalition, and in New Zealand, a coalition led by the National Party. However, according to a report by popular website Stuff in NZ, the NZ Government rejected the HFC cable approach. The site reports:

“Communications Minister Amy Adams said Vodafone was ‘obviously pursuing its own commercial interests’ and the Government ‘will not be stopping the UFB build in any of the candidate areas’.”

Non-profit group InternetNZ, which promotes adoption and development of the Internet in New Zealand, said in a separate statement that it was strongly opposed to Vodafone’s proposal. InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter described the idea as “a retrograde move” that makes little sense for anyone other than Vodafone.

“UFB needs to be rolled out to as much of New Zealand as possible. This suggestion by Vodafone begs the question, why would Kiwis choose to make use of a second-class network when we are already on our way to having a first–class network?” he said.

“From the beginning, we’ve been a huge supporter of the UFB. InternetNZ welcomed Prime Minster John Key’s commitment to the plan in April 2008, and even commissioned research on the cost of a fibre build that was released later that year. Our long-term commitment to a fibre future is well established.

InternetNZ said it expected the Government to stand strong on its position, which has been that the UFB rollout will continue around the country. “Minister Adams has been spot on with her comments that regardless of Chorus’ financials the UFB build must go on. We back her and the Government to make good on their election pledge of a world-class network for New Zealand,” said Carter. “It makes good economic sense for Vodafone to seek to make best use of the HFC network it bought when it took over TelstraClear, but replacing the UFB isn’t the way to go.”

“While we support Vodafone and others doing some lateral thinking about how to speed up and improve the UFB rollout, this particular suggestion just doesn’t pass muster. The HFC network can deliver decent speeds, but it’s not future proof – the UFB is, and New Zealand needs to stick with it,” Carter said.

The news comes as Chorus has today agreed on a small package of measures with CFH to modify its rollout to make it more effective. The changes do not substantially change the UFB rollout, but will see Chorus allowed to deliver UFB services in multi-dwelling units using existing Cat 5 Ethernet cabling if it already exists in the building. This is not expected to depreciate the UFB service speeds.

I know that Delimiter covers technology in the Australian context, but I thought it interesting to see what’s happening over the ditch in New Zealand on the HFC cable, which is so contentious in Australia. Clearly, conservative politicians have a different view of whether the HFC cable network in that country should be reused, compared with the view of Australia’s ruling party.


  1. But in Australia, the use of HFC has very little to do with it being “ultra-fast” and has much more to do opposing the Labor NBN plan at all costs.

    • – This.

      Plus, it’s not about providing for the future or what’s best for the country. It’s about “What’s the cheapest, dirtiest, fastest way we can roll out “new” and “better” broadband services to the country to shut the vast majority of people up about it?” If it was about what’s in the nation’s best interests, it’d be Fibre irrespective of the cost.

      • Or possibly the Liberals looking after their best buddy Rupert ensuring his domination of the market for the foreseeable future.

        As a sideline investigate proposed changes to Media ownership laws:)


          • Ummm in regards to “waiving of Ruperts $800+Mill tax debt” I suggest you do your research Abel.

            The refund was for tax charged incorrectly in 1989 under the Hawke Labor Government. The issue was resolved and the ATO ordered to pay it back to Murdoch in July 2013 when the Rudd Labor Government was in power. It had not a single thing to do with the Liberals.

            It was not a gift to Murdoch, it was that he was incorrectly taxed and was owed it and the High Court agreed. So you’re saying you’re personally happy to be over taxed and would never seek a refund if you were owed it… Of course you would!

          • Perhaps you should do your own research:

            ” In July 2013 Australia’s Federal Court ruled that News Corp ought to be allowed to claim the deduction and the ATO had 28 days to decide to appeal.

            The business daily said the ATO decided against such a move”

            They decided against the appeal after the LNP won power, even though they actually had a good (though very complex) case.

      • Did any of you see the picture of Turnbull with all his gloating mates that are going to review the regulatory framework telecommunications. They are taking the piss out of the general public now as now Turnbull has killed the NBN they can carve up the market for themselves with non of those annoying consumers to bother them. I am sure they will be laughing their heads off over the expensive wines, etc.

        Turnbull’s behavior is really disgusting. In the digital age effective information services are key to competitiveness. It is beyond depressing the behavior of this individual and his pathetic run to silicon valley to give away some more of Australia.

  2. Expect total silence from Turnbull, despite screaming for us to follow NZ when it suited his narrative. I wonder which other country he will now select to provide a low analysis sound bite?

  3. I think it’s clear the (National) Government in New Zealand has set a course, and is going to complete it.

    It’s similar to NBNco here; it’ll only work with a single wholesaler. Soon as you have multiple, the wholesale income is split and returns fall.

    Turnbull used NZ as an example. I believe that will stop now that it doesn’t fit his ‘model’.

    Compare this to a Government here who would prefer someone else did. And is busy commissioning reviews and reports to try and stave off the inevitable.

    It is entirely likely my parents, whom live in a very small, rural and sea-side community in the South Island, will gain access to faster speeds (likely VDSL2; I doubt they’re pulling fibre) before I do – and I live within 10 minutes of the Adelaide CBD.

    Go fig.

  4. So not all conservatives are a pack of Luddite morons, just our home grown LNP ones then? Interesting…

  5. Glad to see that NZ aren’t hung up on some Noalition Anti-Labor exercise that will see us firmly entrenched in the copper age. Maybe the HFC proposal was considered by people that Turnbull 1) did not employ, 2) are not paid by Turnbull and 3) do not stand to make personal gain from their association with Turnbull.

    Meanwhile, Turnbull is secretly investing in those many businesses that will manufacture the plethora of spare parts for his amazing mechanical hydromatic broadband machine.

  6. If the government were a business the board (parliament) would all be sacked based on the amount of shareholder (taxpayer) value presently being destroyed. If we follow the current LNP trajectory the completed portions of the NBN will either be sold of for far less than their construction cost, or will forever be a drain on subsidies from the taxpayer. The government needs to make a choice very soon, stop cherry picking from the likes of TPG, Telstra and Optus, or be prepared to forever subsidise connectivity in rural and remote regions.

  7. “right-wring coalitions”

    Strangely fitting

    But then they do have a very intelligent, smart switched on P.M, no-one vaguely comparable in our Cabinet , let alone the Leadership team

  8. I simply urge everyone to watch the video.

    One of the best, most articulate smack downs you will ever see.

  9. Well this is just the news Malcom will use to forge ahead then with his hair-brained scheme. The LNP will usually do diametrically the opposite of what’s in the best interest just to say “we won’t be told by anyone how to run our country”

    Luddites rejoice you have a true champion again, not seen since Richard Alston disgraced the communications portfolio.

  10. FTTH the right choice: NZ IT minister

    New Zealand’s Communications Minister Amy Adams has said that her country is rolling out a fibre-to-home network similar to Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), because it is “comprehensive and future-proof”.

    The most comprehensive and future-proof network we could build was a fibre-to-the-home package,” Adams said.

    “Effectively, it made far better fiscal sense … and all the feedback we’ve had is it’s been the right way to go.”

    “It made better sense to do it now, rather than have to come back in the future and retrofit a fibre-to-the-node to a fibre-to-the-home connection.”

    No Rupert in NZ. Funny coincidence.

  11. Excellent work New Zealand. How come common sense can prevail there but not here?

  12. Did any of you see the picture of Turnbull with all his gloating mates that are going to review the regulatory framework for telecommunications. This is a massive piss take of the general public given Turnbull has killed the NBN. They can now carve up the market for themselves with none of those annoying consumers to bother them. I am sure they will be laughing their heads off over the expensive after diner wines, etc.

    Turnbull’s behaviour is disgusting. In the digital age effective information services are key to competitiveness and an opportunity for communities and SMEs to prosper. It is beyond depressing the behaviour of this individual and his pathetic run to silicon valley to give away some more of Australia.

    • The same place they will in about 5-10 years when we have to roll it out. Of course we will have to pay more for access because we will still be paying off all the money Turnbull paid for copper, FTTN, HFC, etc, for his political and egotistical reasons.

    • The billions are not being used to pay for FTTP but hey will be found for parental leave, super tax deduction for the very rich, failed defence projects, chocolate factories in Tasmania, subsidies to the mining industry, politicians’ perks and gold plated pensions……..

    • From ripping out the copper they bought from Telstra, melting it down and selling it as a resource.

      That is the only thing the current copper network is good for.

    • Bob,

      We (the people) are set to almost certainly pay to lease copper from an infrastructure owner who is on public record stating that it is likely to compete with NBNco.

      We (the people) are set to almost certainly pay to build a network that will not be fit for purpose tomorrow, let alone today.

      We (the people) are set to almost certainly pay to build out a potential future replacement of the copper network within almost certainly a decade after we have just paid to lease it.

      With a plethora of commercial interests all competing on separate infrastructure – transplanting the current broken regulatory and competitive field into tomorrow.

      The NZ government is being smart with taxpayer funds. Ours, is simply not.

      To make the short-sighted state of “where are the billions going to come from?” examples, more eloquently than anything else, why we are, where we are.

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