In different guises we've been guardians of New Zealand's telecommunications network from the beginning.
1983 - we laid the first fibre cable in the ground
It all began with the first “talking telegraph” trial in 1877 which brought about the formation of the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department in 1881.
What followed was 130 years of communications evolution that saw telephones in nearly every household in the country, the privatisation of the network and birth of Telecom in 1987, the internet, mobile phone technology, and optical fibre that brings telecommunications into a new era.
In March 2008 Chorus was formed. It was still a Telecom business unit, but operated at arms length from the rest of the organisation and was tasked with giving all service providers access to the local fixed line network.
In December 2011, Chorus reached a major milestone, formally becoming a separate entity in its own right and listing on the New Zealand stock exchange. We are now traded as CNU.
Today, Chorus is New Zealand’s largest telecommunications utility company and continues its long heritage of building and looking after the country’s fixed line telecommunications network now and for generations to come.
And we have a great future ahead
At the launch of Chorus on the New Zealand Stock Exchange on 23 November 2011 Mark Ratcliffe, Chorus CEO and Sue Sheldon outlined their vision for Chorus' future.
In a week’s time, we will witness the most significant event in New Zealand’s telecommunications history since privatisation in 1991.
Today, we take the next major step on our bold journey, as we list Chorus on the NZX as a separate company.
We were delighted back in May to be selected as a cornerstone Crown partner to build an Ultra Fast Broadband network. And with our soon to be former colleagues at Telecom, we will have executed one of the fastest demergers in the corporate world.
We look forward to working with our investors, partners, the wider industry and most importantly our customers to develop the network and the innovative products and services that will change the way New Zealanders experience and benefit from the internet.
In moving forward, we take with us our key strengths. We will continue our track record of building and operating a world class network.
The new fibre network will complement Chorus’ existing network of 1.8 million fibre and copper lines.
But whether it’s deploying UFB fibre to 830,000 premises at the rate of a house a minute for the next 8 years or delivering better rural broadband, our job is to keep the network humming along while making the move to the new, fast growing fibre optic network an easy one for New Zealand
" Mark Ratcliffe at the launch of Chorus on NZX
But as we look to the future, I think it’s also really important that we understand our past. We take our history with us along the knowledge we’ve gained and lessons we’ve learned. Some of it goes back to the Post Office; but Chorus’ more recent story began in March 2008 as a result of operational separation. We know now that that was a practice run for the real thing – structural separation – in a week’s time.
The things we stand for were as important back then as they are now.
We’re a company that works in the background. We keep the network humming along so our customers can deliver their services to end-customers.
Chorus also reflects the collaborative approach to everything we do – working with our customers, the industry, local communities and now the Crown – as we continue to build the infrastructure to keep neighbourhoods connected to the world.
Finally our name reflects of the importance of bringing a human touch to technology. ‘Chorus’ best reflects our people, and our culture.
We intend to embrace fibre in the same way that we embraced equivalence. It’s not just about the letter of the contact, or the deeds or the myriad of other legal documents. It’s about the spirit.
" Mark Ratcliffe
We like to think of ourselves as the guardians of New Zealand’s communication network. It’s our pupose. We take great pride in looking after the network, repairing it. And in this new era of fibre optics, speeding up the rebuilding of it with the Crown’s assistance.
It’s this sense of guardianship that made our choice to partner with the Crown in bringing forward the migration to a predominantly fibre world a clear one. We chose partnership and therefore demerger, because as guardians we want our network’s rich history to continue to evolve into an even brighter fibre future.
I’d like to paraphrase President John Kennedy, who in 1962 said; We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard. Going to the moon was a challenge. A challenge he was willing to accept, was unwilling to postpone and one he intended to win.
So here we are at the start of our next journey. With the demerger from Telecom, Chorus is in its own way boldly going where no other telecommunications network company in the world has gone before.
We choose a fibre future, because like the moon challenge, it will be hard, but it is the right thing to do.
Unlike the Americans or the Russians, we’re not intending to go it alone. We’re working with others to make it happen and our collaborative success brings with it the promise of progress, innovation and a brighter future for our shareholders and for all New Zealanders.
We head into today excited, inspired and committed to making this important next step in the industry a success, and a model for others in the world to consider and follow.
Thank you Mark for sharing with us your vision about Chorus’ future, you make our company’s future seem not only exciting but also one that will make a positive contribution to our economy.
The Board and the rest of the company share that sense of privilege and responsibility in being selected to be part of building New Zealand’s fibre future. It’s great that our investors and shareholders can now also play their part in helping us achieve it.
Today, Chorus lists on the NZX main board. This means all New Zealanders now have the opportunity to be a part of the company that they see everyday in their communities – the white and blue Chorus vans that help keep communication going everyday, or that go the extra mile when Mother Nature throws larger challenges our way.
Chorus not only becomes part of the NZX Index, but as the Crown’s cornerstone partner in delivering the Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives, Chorus is poised to contribute to our country’s economic growth and innovation.
Fibre optic technology makes that possible. And Chorus has a great fibre pedigree to build from. Mark spoke of our long network history - we have the unique experience and knowledge that means we’re ready to deliver this enormous build programme.
We have a proven track record, most recently demonstrated with the successful Fibre to the Node programme, which is on track for completion by the year’s end – on time and under budget.
It’s this passion for delivering on its commitments, and a reputation for integrity and collaboration that makes Chorus a great company to be part of.
" Sue Sheldon, Chairman of Chorus, at the launch of Chorus on NZX
So, with the rest of the Chorus Board and on behalf of our shareholders, please join me in marking the launch of CNU on the NZX.