NEW ZEALAND WEEKLY ROUND-UP: SMART CITIES, QUANTUM CHANGE

Another strong showing for New Zealand in IDC’s Asia Pacific Smart Cities Awards, a first of its kind network trial for Chorus and a Quantum acceleration for Spark – it’s the week that was in New Zealand’s telco scene.

‘First of its kind’ open access network trial for Chorus

Network provider Chorus has teamed up with Nokia for an open access network infrastructure trial which Nokia said is a ‘first of its kind solution’.

Chorus will trial Nokia’s wavelength services solution for on-demand assurance and fulfilment of Layer 1 services as part of Chorus’ one open access network infrastructure vision designed to accelerate the monetisation of infrastructure by offering fibre access, transport services, premium colocation and network hubs. Chorus said the solution, which is compliant with emerging MEF standards for L1 subscriber services, will enable it to offer new standards-based optical services to service providers.

“With its support for compact demarcation devices and end-customer portal access to fully instrumented service assurance dashboards and reports, we believe that solutions like this will further advance our service offer and put more network control in the hands of our service providers,” Chorus CTO Ewen Powell said.

Three Kiwi projects in running for APAC Smart Cities awards

Three Kiwi projects are finalists in the 2018 IDC Asia Pacific Smart Cities awards, continuing New Zealand’s strong form in the awards.

Auckland City Council has been shortlisted as finalist in two categories. Its Safeswim project, which provides real-time data on wastewater and stormwater network performance, with predictive models, to provide water quality forecasts for swimming sites around Auckland, is in the running for an award in the Smart Water category. The system has significantly improved water safety alerts.

The council’s Upsouth youth empowerment and civic engagement digital platform is also a finalist in the Digital Equity and Accessibility category. Upsouth is designed to improve participation and engagement to increase diversity in decision making. Users earn micropayment for their ideas and contributions from the sponsorship money pool supporting each call/question.

Also in the running for the awards is Datacom’s Antenno, which is a finalist in the Civic Engagement category. Antenno is a mobile app solution designed to improve common action about council services, public safety, public infrastructure and other community information. The app, which is being used by South Waikato District Council and Marlborough District Council, enables local government departments to send alerts and notifications and also receive feedback and input from the community.

Last year New Zealand claimed four Smart City Asia Pacific Awards, with Qrious, NEC, Unison and Waikato District Health all winning.

Jefferson King, IDC New Zealand Associate Market Analyst, said of this year’s showing: “For a country the size of New Zealand to have three projects that stand out on the regional stage is a fantastic achievement.

“New Zealand has consistently punched above its weight in the four years that these awards have been running.”

Management revamp as senior execs depart Chorus

Chorus is revamping its executive team as two senior managers exit the company.

Nick Woodward, product sales and marketing general manager, is leaving after 10 years. Woodward has been with Chorus since it started as a business unit in the then Telecom (now Spark) business in 2008.

Ed Hyde, previously CEO of Spark Ventures, has been appointed as chief customer officer. Hyde said as Chorus nears the conclusion of the bulk of its fibre build, and with a rapidly and dynamically changing environment, customer focus and innovation will be “essential” for the company to achieve its objectives.

Meanwhile, network and file management general manager Ed Beattie will leave in August, with current chief financial officer Andrew Carroll moving into the role. A global search has begun for a replacement CFO, with Carroll remaining as CFO, while also taking on the new role, until a new CFO is found.

Quantum acceleration for Spark

Spark NZ is accelerating its Quantum transformation and performance improvement programme with earnings expected to fall as restructuring costs are brought forward into the FY18 results. The telco is forecasting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $971 million and $991 million for the year to June 30 – down from the $996 million to $1.02 billion previously forecast.

Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, said the three frontrunner Agile ‘tribes’ set up by Spark in February are already demonstrating ‘impressive’ improvements in terms of deeply embedded customer centricity, dramatically increased speed to market and empowered and engaged employees with greater productivity.

Changes originally expected to kick in in FY19 all now be implemented this FY.

Spark said additional implementation costs of between $25 million and $30 million are now expected to be brought forward into reported FY18 earnings.

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