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Vodafone and Axia team up for broadband bid

Monday 10th May 2010

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Vodafone New Zealand, the country’s biggest mobile phone carrier, has announced it will partner with Canadian company Axia NetMedia Corp. if it’s successful in its bid to build a new fibre network for the country.

Axia, a Canadian network construction expert, put in one of two national pitches to roll-out the fibre to three-quarters of the nation’s population as part of the government’s $1.5 billion spend-up on a new network, the other coming from Vodafone’s rival, Telecom Corp.

If Axia’s bid succeeds, Vodafone would have to retain a minority shareholding in a joint venture, with the government’s terms preventing a retail operator from controlling a fibre company – something that’s hindering Telecom’s Chorus from sweeping up the contract.  

“The challenge is multi-dimensional and requires proper consideration of public policy, pricing of services and creating the right regulation and competitive tension,” said Axia chairman and chief executive Art Price in a statement.

“The government of New Zealand has set a policy framework that can achieve the desired outcomes.”  

In recent months, Telecom has softened its stance on participating in the government’s ultra-fast broadband initiative, with chief executive Paul Reynolds telling investors that it will consider all options in order to be involved.  

A Vodafone tie-up with Axia would see the mobile operator’s arrangement extend its ties in telecommunications infrastructure after it last year announced a closer partnership deal with satellite communications company Farmside to deliver rural broadband.  

Axia has built similar next generation networks in Canada, France and Singapore and specialises in network build rather than ownership.

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