TerraMacs in Africa

November 27, 2010

Almost immediately on delivery our first Mini Mac in Africa set to work and was very quickly achieving 3 road crossings per day with ease.

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With the deadline for submissions expired, Crown Fibre Holdings will on Tuesday 2nd of February announce the list of companies who have made submissions to participate in the broadband roll out across New Zealand. All submissions will be evaluated before a report is prepared for the Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce.
Meanwhile two companies who are competing for a contract to supply Auckland have divulged details of their own submissions are listed electricity company Vector and Telecom.

Vector says its bid to roll out ultra-fast broadband across Auckland will result in newer and faster technology than Telecom is offering to provide, while Telecom says it can roll out broadband across the country more cheaply and efficiently using its existing fibre network.

Chief Executive Simon Mackenzie of Vector says they will build a fibre network to 133,000 Auckland premises, including 18,000 businesses, within two years, connect 255 Auckland schools and 57 medical facilities within three years and pass 57% of businesses within four years.

Telecom has submitted two proposals. The first complies with the Government’s preferred commercial model, which was to have up to 33 local fibre companies creating the network separately. However Telecom’s preferred model, is to build on the existing fibre network that its network business Chorus is rolling out to roadside cabinets.

Meanwhile, a group of 19 companies have formed a consortium, called the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group (NZRFG), to deliver broadband to people’s homes and businesses across about 80% of the country and it was proposing to extend out beyond the 33 main centres highlighted by the government.
The consortium proposals are from Waikato-based WEL Networks (the combination of WEL, Waipa and Velocity Networks and Hamilton Fibre Network), plus the Otago and Southland joint venture partnership of Flute Network (Dunedin and Central Otago’s Aurora Energy, along with Southland’s Electricity Invercargill and The Power Company).
Aurora Energy and the management company representing the other two Flute partners, PowerNet, are NZRFG members.
However, all other South Island NZRFG members – Enable Networks, Network Tasman, Electricity Ashburton, Alpine Energy, Network Waitaki and Westpower – were willing to work together.
Northpower has also submitted a bid for the Northland region.
The North Island trio of Unison, Horizon Energy and Eastland Group have all expressed interest in rolling out the initiative across their geographic areas.
CityLink and Electra have pitched further proposals to establish fibre networks in the Government’s preferred candidate areas in the lower North Island.

About 30 local groups and several international telecommunication giants have expressed interest in a partnership in a Local Fibre Company with the government to facilitate the broadband roll out.

Stephen Joyce, the Communications Minister declined to name the parties that had indicated an interest in the project, stating that this was commercially sensitive. It is not clear if Telecom or Vodafone have indicated any interest.
Stephen Joyce said the level of interest expressed showed that the private sector was as excited about the investment as the government is.

“We are now getting very close to identifying the private sector partners who will build the infrastructure and get the roll-out underway.”

”From my perspective the right partners will share in the government’s vision of the transformative ability of ultra-fast broadband. They will have the credibility to step-up and deliver this critical piece of infrastructure in a cost-effective manner, and they will be patient and realistic investors.”

“In the Crown, they will find a highly motivated partner: one that is prepared to do the hard yards, to shoulder its fair share of the risks, and to see this ambitious project through,” Mr Joyce said.

The 38 groups now have until 29 January 2010 to lodge their full proposals

The New Zealand Government has formally announced its invitation for private investors to co-invest and match the governments $1.5 billion investment in the planned broadband infrastructure roll out, with a partnership in a Local Fibre Company. Expressions of interest are to be lodged by the 13th of November with a final formal proposal by the 29th of January 2010.  Undoubtedly running well behind the governments own original schedule and while there is much debate around the final estimated  project cost, which some estimate to be as high as $6 billion, the New Zealand trenchless industry remains poised to boom on the back of a large amount of underground fibre work.

New Zealand Broadband All Go

September 17, 2009

Despite some experts warning that the plan is under funded and real costs could escalate to as much as $5 billion, the New Zealand government announced on the 16th of September that it would proceed with the planned NZ$1.5 billion investment to build a national broadband network together with the private sector, while rejecting counterproposals by Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Limited and Vodafone New Zealand, a unit of Vodafone Group PLC.

The new network would be established through a new government company, Crown Fibre Holdings, that will be operational next month. The government will select 33 regional and national operational partners – to be known as Local Fibre Companies – that will build commercial, open access, dark fiber networks, with the goal of connecting 75% of homes within 10 years. Priority would be given during the first six years to connecting schools, hospitals, health service providers and homes in new sub-divisions.

The fibre networks would cover cities and towns that are projected to have the largest population by 2021. These now include the towns of Masterton, Levin and Kapiti. Queenstown and Greymouth, which would have been excluded under criteria the Government issued in March but which now qualify.

Communications Minister Stephen Joyce said he expects that Crown Fibre Holdings will receive proposals from the Local Fibre Companies by mid 2010 and that the final deal will allow investment in any number of the LFCs by any one entity or consortium..

A number of companies have already shown interest in the government’s broadband initiative and  “Now it’s time to get on with finding the right partners to build these networks.” Joyce says.

Telecom, New Zealand’s biggest telco by revenue and subscriber numbers stated that the government’s high-speed broadband plan appears to preclude its involvement.

“Telecom is disappointed the benefits of our national approach to going faster and further have been overlooked,” Telecom Chief Executive Paul Reynolds said in a statement.

Joyce said relative to indications from other potential partners, Telecom’s proposal covered fewer homes and businesses, only provided ducts and not the fiber itself, and did not clearly result in significant additional private sector expenditure above normal business levels.

Vodafone’s proposal to establish a cooperative fiber company with the country’s major telecom operators owning a quarter of the shares, was also rejected.

A Vodafone spokesperson said, however, it is positive the government is looking at working with private companies and “we now need to spend some time now looking at the details to decide if we’ll be able to be involved in some way.”

As in the draft outlined earlier this year, the final plan will not allow participation by telecom service retailers, suggesting Telecom would have to fully split its network company, Chorus, from its retail arm in order to participate.

On Wednesday Telecom noted that “in the context of Telecom’s undertakings on operational separation and associated investment, today’s announcement also raises the issue of the relevance of those undertakings.”

Telecom said it looked forward to further clarification on the regulatory, competitive and operational issues raised by the announcement and added that it remained open to discussion.

Telecom, through Chorus, is in the process of building a national NZ$1.3 billion fiber-to-the-node network.

Joyce said Telecom was welcome to become a potential partner if it can meet the tender criteria, and national proposals would be considered as well as regional ones.

“The government is also clear that potential partners who already own fiber assets can table options that involve those fiber assets being vended into any new fiber companies,” said Joyce.

Three months ago the Federal Government announced plans to form a new company that, together with the private sector, will invest up to $43 billion over eight years to build a high speed broadband network.

The Government will be the majority shareholder, but it will sell down its interests within five years of the new network becoming operational, and the private sector can invest via cash or the contribution of assets.

The formal call for tenders for the first part of Australia’s Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania, was made last week by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett and Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, while they officially opened Basslink’s fibre optic cable across Bass Strait.

Senator Conroy says the Tasmanian leg of the rollout will deliver wholesale-only, open access broadband network services in the second quarter of 2010.

See http://m.nbr.co.nz/opinion/chris-keall/fibre-101-with-steven-joyce.html

Hybrid 1516 Enquiries

July 14, 2009

We are pleased to see the level of enquiry being received regarding our new development from both contractors and utility companies alike. It is very encouraging to see that the direction we are taking is supported, by both end customers (utility companies) and users of HDD (contractors).

Common questions and themes, along with our answers thus far have been:

Do we believe other manufacturers will follow suit with hybrid drills? Yes we do and it is evident already in other areas of construction equipment with the release of hybrid excavators etc.

What advantages are there for the contractor buying a Hybrid Drill? Operational drill benefits for the contractor will  include reduced fuel consumption and operating noise levels along with some control advances. However, we see the real benefit being the ability to tender based on a reduced carbon footprint which we see growing as a pre requistite almost daily now. Some countries may be slower to adopt the relevant environmental policies but there can be little doubt it is coming. We suggest that as a contractor your next HDD Rig buying decision has to be made with this in mind and with a view to future proofing your business.

Are there any utility companies already setting policy regarding work being carried out with hybrids? To date and to our knowledge there are not. We think that perhaps this will come but as yet, the technology and machine access is obviously not available to support such a policy. However we see clearly growing public and government pressure, world wide to move toward ‘green’ policies and no business should expect to be immune to these in the medium to long term. Certainly many large corporates have established environmental policies and as technology and access to machinery grows we expect to see these policies firm up around these issues.

Will having a hybrid drill get me more work now? Clearly without established environmental policies which call for use of the technology this is difficult to quantify in any way. We do however expect that utility companies and the like will in time provide recognition and a favourable weighting towards hybrid drill operators and their tenders.

Steven Joyce, this morning confirmed on television a delay of at least 2 months to the broadband plans. Mr Joyce stated that the government needed to take the extra time to review the proposals tabled by the various parties, including sligthly ‘left field’  proposals from Telecom and Vodafone. He confirmed that funds of $1.5b remain set in concrete for the 10 year project.

The New Zealand Government has received more than 100 submissions on its plan to spend up to $1.5 billion over the next 10 years, which will be topped up to $3 billion by private-sector investment, to run fibre to the doorsteps of schools, hospitals, businesses and private homes.
The Government today reported that it did not now expect a report back to Cabinet on the submissions and implementation details for another few weeks, a month after the original timeline set.
Telecom is to table two options with the Government: a national network of ducts available to all operators deploying fibre or extending its current fibre roll-out.
Telecom reports that both proposals will focus on connecting 2000 schools and all hospitals to the fibre network within two years of work starting, while the remaining 600 schools would be connected within the following six months.
Vodafone having initially supported the Government plan, has also now come up with its own version of how the broadband roll out should take place, suggesting that telcos and infrastructure companies club together to invest in a single, ultra-fast broadband network.
Meanwhile Electricty Lines companies and local fibre operators, including Vector, Northpower and WEL Networks, who all have existing infrastructure and expertise to support fibre roll out, have joined forces to form the Regional Fibre Group to support the Government plan.