Smartlinx3 po­si­tions well into the fu­ture

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By NI­CHOLAS BOY­ACK

Smartlinx3 may fi­nally be in a po­si­tion to achieve what it was set up do in 2004 – de­liver cheap, high-speed in­ter­net con­nec­tions in the Hutt Val­ley and Porirua.

Hutt City Coun­cil has in­vested $465,000 in Smartlinx3, which was set up in 2004 un­der the direc­tion of then-coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Rik Hart.

He be­lieved ar­eas like Wainuiomata and Stokes Val­ley would miss out on in­ter­net ser­vices with­out the in­ter­ven­tion of a coun­cil-backed firm.

Hutt Mana Char­i­ta­ble Trust has in­vested dou­ble the coun­cil’s amount, and the com­pany was awarded $2.4 mil­lion un­der the Labour Gov­ern­ment’s broad­band chal­lenge.

Smartlinx3 has had a trou­bled his­tory and last year laid off all its staff.

The 2010 an­nual re­port shows a net deficit of $668,491 and ac­cu­mu­lated losses of $1.6m.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Stallinger says there is now light at the end of the tun­nel and the com­pany is about to take a gi­ant step for­ward.

Maori broad­band in­vest­ment group Toro­toro Waea is about to in­ject much-needed cash into Smartlinx3 and Mr Stallinger says he is now con­fi­dent it has a good fu­ture.

‘‘This is the most sig­nif­i­cant event in the com­pany’s his­tory and it is a huge vote of con­fi­dence . . . this could de­liver what the orig­i­nal vi­sion was, with­out any fur­ther coun­cil in­vest­ment.’’

He has been in con­tact with Toro­toro Waea and says it ap­pears to have the same aims as coun­cil: cheap and efficient broad­band for the com­mu­nity.

Smartlinx3 has long needed a large cash in­jec­tion and he says that was never go­ing to come from the three coun­cil share­hold­ers.

Al­though he agrees Smartlinx3 has had prob­lems, he says many start-up com­pa­nies strug­gle at first.

Mi­nor­ity share­holder Wayne Stemp says Toro­toro Waea should have com­pleted all the nec­es­sary pa­per­work by the end of July.

He agrees with Mr Stallinger that Smartlinx3 will then be able to move for­ward pos­i­tively.

Toro­toro Waea has the same ‘‘ com­mu­nity fo­cus’’ as the coun­cil and he says ev­ery­one will ben­e­fit by hav­ing a com­pany that de­liv­ers more efficient broad­band.

He re­jects the sug­ges­tion that there are now lots of large com­pa­nies com­pet­ing to de­liver broad­band, and says in re­al­ity there are only a hand­ful of com­pa­nies, that the cost re­mains high and broad­band in New Zealand is still slow and in­ef­fi­cient.

Lo­cal firms will be un­able to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally un­less broad­band im­proves sig­nif­i­cantly, and he says when the deal with Toro­toro Waea is signed, Smartlinx3 will be in a po­si­tion to make a dif­fer­ence.

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