After Fives after match report

Enable put on a great After Five session last night in

As you know, Enable is building the UFB in Christchurch but
what I didn’t know is it’s also responsible for another area around the main
city – in effect the satellite towns that feed Christchurch.

The project is going well. I went out on a site visit and
saw a crew drilling along a 30m driveway to reach the property at the back.
Even though the other two residents hadn’t signed up for UFB at this point, the
team were laying in the spurs ready to hook them up should the need arise and,
given the rest of the street’s willingness to swap to fibre (there were four
connections being put in on that street alone) it’s surely only a matter of
time before they put in the call.

What interested me most about the deployment is the uptake
rate – Enable is running at over double the national average at 6% uptake.

That may seem like peanuts but don’t forget the main
residential build doesn’t start for another couple of years yet so to see such
good numbers come in when the country as a whole is barely hitting 3% means
it’s worth taking a second look at Enable’s model.

Enable is co-marketing the fibre deployment alongside its
Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and even without the two big names in the fixed
line broadband world – Telecom and Vodafone – it’s still signing up a
tremendous number of new connections each month.

In addition, word of mouth is strong and that’s in no small
part because of the excellent clean-up job the crews do when laying the fibre.
Instead of the nightmare of trenches, refurbishments, multiple holes in walls,
delays and the like, the teams make sure they clean up after themselves, that
reinstatements of driveways and footpaths are of a top-notch nature and that
they are constantly communicating with both residents and RSP partners. It’s
clearly paying dividends.

Enable has all but completed deployment in some of the
smaller dormitory townships outside Christchurch proper, which means those
people who do live outside the city bounds will find they can work remotely via
fibre instead of driving in and out of the city every day. Enable CEO Steve
Fuller says that’s important to his team as the company is mostly owned by the
council which also needs to consider usage of the roads. If only other councils
were so engaged in the UFB’s potential.

We didn’t agree entirely on the government’s review of the
telco act but I can see where Enable is coming from with its views on investor
certainty and I hope they can see what we’re talking about when I say I don’t
want the Commerce Commission sidelined as regulator.

What must be a concern for both LFCs and customers is that
the move to allow Chorus to pocket price its copper lines in areas where it
doesn’t have the UFB contract is unfair and unacceptable. Quite why MBIE
included the concept in its discussion document is beyond me but the idea that
Chorus will be allowed to keep copper prices high unless it faces competition
is bizarre at best and anti-competitive at worst. I’d hate to see Enable and
the other LFCs go to the wall because Chorus can lower its copper prices and
block migration to the UFB (to follow the government’s own logic), especially
given the stark differences in deployment results.

Thanks again to Enable for a great day and a great After

Next up for the After Five sequence we have a change of
pace. ASB’s chief economist Nick Tuffley will be talking about the state of the
economy and ICT’s role in it and ASB is hosting it at its new building in
Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

After that we have Network 4 Learning talking about its role
in education and what N4L hopes to achieve in the coming years once all the
schools in the country have access to high-speed broadband.

Times and dates and places will be posted on the website on


NB – the newsletter version of this post differs somewhat owing to my poor handwriting skills.