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Kiwi wrap: Spark ups sport foray, power co wins telco awards

17 August

In a week that highlights the changing telco market in New Zealand, we’ve seen Spark marking plans for a standalone sports media business, Trustpower continuing to win big in the telco market, and new 4K and UFB developments.

Spark ups sports play

New Zealand’s largest telco, Spark, will partner with an as yet unnamed specialist sports-streaming platform as it looks to create a standalone sports media business.

The company this week secured exclusive rights to three seasons of Premier League, from next August, and Manchester United TV. The deals follow the April’s announcement that Spark had won the rights to the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 and other premium rugby tournaments.

Spark says the platform used for the delivery of the streamed sports content won’t be the platform used for its current streaming service, Lightbox and will instead be from “a specialist platform provider , with extensive experience streaming live sports events.”

Spark managing director Simon Moutter, said the deals were “not about using sports content simply as an acquisition or retention tool for our broadband or mobile base,” tipping them as a potential future source of revenue and profit growth for the company.

Jeff Latch has been appointed as head of Spark Sport. Meanwhile Kiwis are watching anxiously, hoping their World Cup and football viewing won’t be marred by the issues seen in Australia in June when Optus’ struggled to deliver Fifa World Cup streaming services.

Changing face of NZ telco market as Trustpower reinforces market hold

Trustpower, an energy company which branched out into telecommunications, has locked established players out of the winners circle in the annual Roy Morgan New Zealand Customer Satisfaction Awards,  snapping up Home Phone Provider of the Year and Home Broadband Service Provider of the Year.

The company has won home phone provider for the past four years and said it had noted 12.5% growth in internet connections last year.

Craig Neustroski, Trustpower general manager markets, said the company was ramping up its use of predictive AI and machine learning to help customer satisfaction. “We started 2017 with nine automated processes and we will have reached 20 by the end of this year,” he says. “We now have over 400 topics that can be accessed through out chatbot, webchat or the Trustpower app, with our New Zealand-based phone agents taking calls from those who prefer to speak directly to a person.”

Skinny Mobile, Spark’s low-cost, online-only brand, was a first time winner in the award this year, taking out Mobile Phone Service Provider of the Year.

Apple, meanwhile, was rated the Mobile Handset Provider of the Year, with the iPhone also making it into the ‘Best of the Best’ with 95.0% satisfaction, behind Emirates on 96.2% and Holden on 95.9%.

Kordia completes first live 4K broadcast

Kordia has completed what it says is New Zealand’s first 4K ultra high definition broadcast in a move the state-owned commercial enterprise says shows 4K is a viable option for broadcasters.

“We’ve proven we can do it right here, right now using existing digital terrestrial technology which we believe is the most reliable option when delivering 4K content,” Dean Brain, Kordia head of media, said.

Huntly gets fibred-up

Fibre is beginning to roll out in Huntly as part of the UFB Extension project – the next phase of the New Zealand Government’s Ultrafast Broadband programme which sees an additional 190 towns receiving access to fibre-to-the-premise tech.

The Huntly build, which is carried out by UltraFast Fibre, will offer UFB connections to up to 3,000 homes and businesses.

William Hamilton, Ultrafast Fibre CEO, said the Huntly installation provided “a real opportunity to help reduce the digital divide.”

“We are aware that some parts of this community could benefit from some help in accessing high-speed broadband, and it is something UFF is prepared to push for,” he added.

On completion of the UFB Extension project in 2022, 87% of Kiwis will have access to FTTP.

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