"Let's look at that baggage - Vodafone's coverage in the rural sector has always been less than optimal. The company says it covers 97% of where New Zealanders live work and play - but that's people, not geography and in rural and remote areas you can leave the township and immediately lose coverage."
Now this is nothing new, and we all knew it. The discussion about "people" and "geography" is a long one. And it's not only on Vodafone, but Telecom as well. With all the economic implications.
Obviously this all comes hot after the government announced the Telecom and Vodafone joint submission won the bid for the rural broadband initiative. One that will see broadband to rural areas with the help of mobile technology. This is from the original release from November 2010:
... to provide fibre to 97 percent of rural schools and a minimum 5Mbps broadband service to 80 percent of rural households within six years. It also aims to provide priority users with access to fibre-based broadband services.
The proposed solution announced today will meet the requirements of the scheme through the extension of Telecom's existing fibre infrastructure to key rural points of presence, including schools and hospitals, and an expanded Vodafone wireless infrastructure that harnesses the power of this fibre to deliver high speed broadband services wirelessly.
It will bring rural broadband users greater choice in terms of providers and technologies, both fixed and wireless.
The proposal extends Telecom's fast broadband (10Mbps+) rollout to 92 percent of the country, bringing city-grade fixed broadband to even more rural users.
At the heart of the proposal is the principle of open access. Both fibre and wireless components will be available on an equivalent basis to access seekers and wholesale customers, allowing any party to offer a retail service over the new infrastructure. This means that rural customers will have not only faster data services but also a much wider choice of technologies and suppliers for these services.
Telecom will be responsible for building fibre to schools and hospitals, cell sites and rural exchanges and cabinets.
Vodafone will be responsible for the design and build of open access tower infrastructure that Vodafone and Telecom XT will co-locate their mobile services on, as indeed could any other wireless service provider who wishes to do so.
Both Telecom and Vodafone will also be making additional investments in their networks in the areas covered by the RBI scheme to offer broadband services to their customers.
As for Paul, he's doing it right. His job at Vodafone was to say what the company wanted out there. So when people complained about rural coverage and he defended the company line. As TUANZ CEO he's on the opposite side. And perhaps, for knowing so well what goes inside a telco, he's the right person to be doing it.
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