Smartlinx3 positions well into the future
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.