Telecom's childish broadband blackmail

With Telecom New Zealand's threat to pull out of the Ultra-Fast Broadband project if it doesn't get the major Auckland contract, the telco is behaving like a spoiled little child.

With Telecom New Zealand's threat to pull out of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project if it doesn't get the major Auckland contract, the telco is behaving like a spoiled little child.

Taking the ball home like this will only be bad for Telecom and will confirm in the hearts of its many critics that it is nothing but a greedy monopolist.

Yes, it was a "shock move" when Crown Fibre Holdings announced power lines company Vector as a preferred bidder for the Auckland portion of the network, especially when Telecom had been given such status earlier on.

Yesterday we saw Telecom warning that without Auckland, the company would find it hard to sell the idea of splitting the company to its shareholders, and without the split, Telecom would not be eligible for the UFB work.

But even without Auckland, Telecom still looks set to gain the bulk of the work.

Of course, Auckland is where the rich pickings are, where the profit will be greatest, but even so, to turn down the rest of the country would be a bad move. It would be akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face, and worse, it will send the wrong message.

It would show Telecom is not interested in New Zealand. It would show that it is not part of the country's social fabric, a view still held by many despite years of privatised ownership. It would not be seen as Kiwi.

I would guess Minister Steven Joyce will know this. He is widely seen as a smart operator.

Maybe he is just playing a game, to extract a better deal and tell Telecom to "sharpen its pencil".

And sharpen its pencil Telecom must.

Telecom needs to realise the government is doing all it can to aid the splitting of the company by fast-tracking legislation to make it happen, despite complaints that it is not allowing due process to be followed within parliament.

And Telecom is still reported to be the favourite for Auckland, so it may still get its big bag of sweeties if it's ready to work for it.

So my advice to Telecom is, stop your tantrums, behave and grow up. Like every child, you won't get everything you want, but you will be rewarded for being a good boy!

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