Chorus lifts broadband connections in March quarter, fixed line connections edge down

Chorus, the telecommunications network operator carved out of Telecom, lifted its number of broadband connections in the first three months of the year, even as its fixed-line connections edged lower.

The Wellington-based company increased its total broadband connections to 1.09 million in the three months ended March 31 from 1.08 million at the start of the quarter, with its biggest gains in enhanced unbundled bitstream access and naked enhanced UBA.

UBA services give telecommunications companies the ability to supply broadband services without having to replicate Chorus’ electronics or software. That service is at the centre of a dispute with Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale who wants to impose sharp cuts on the regulated price of UBA delivered on the company’s ageing copper lines.

Chorus’s fixed line connections slipped to 1.792 million from 1.793 million, though fibre connections increase by 2,000 to 17,000.

The shares rose 0.7 percent to $2.70, having shed 8.5 percent this year.

Last month, the company said it had completed construction work to take fibre past about 116,000 premises by the end of March, having passed 88,590 premises as at Dec. 31. It’s aiming to pass 149,000 by July.

Chorus won a $929 million subsidy from the government to build most of the ultra-fast broadband network after Telecom agreed to structurally carve out the network operator.

Last week, Communications Minister Amy Adams said almost 169,000 premises had been passed by the UFB build as at March 31, with about 172,000 end users able to connect. Of that, 5,133 users have connected to the UFB network.

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