Ever since Telecom did the splits back in 2011, there have been rumours that the 'New Telecom' might not stick with its name, which carries with it a fair bit of equity but also a fair bit of monopolistic baggage. And where there's smoke, there's fire, because Telecom has announced that it will change its name to Spark later in the year.
It's also been widely rumoured that Telecom's Digital Ventures team was looking at launching IPTV and that has also been confirmed with the announcement of a "cutting edge internet-delivered TV and movie service" called ShowmeTV. That was further cemented when Telecom recently canned its relationship with Sky (in Australia, Telstra has seen some success in this area).
We're hoping to talk with chief operating officer Jason Paris and will update the story when we do.
Here's the release.
Telecom intends to change its name later this year to Spark, marking the next step in a series of far-reaching changes the company has made during the past year.
Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter said Spark better reflects the company’s new direction and the aspirations it has for its place in the life of New Zealanders.
“As a company we’ve moved far beyond the home telephone. Spark better represents what we are today – it is all about digital services, fibre, mobile, data, cloud, entertainment, apps, or whatever new technology is around the corner.“Spark is a word that has life and energy, and links to the creativity of New Zealanders, the modern tech economy and our desire to enable our customers to thrive. It will carry with it our widely recognised logo, which is generally referred to as the ‘spark’.”
The change was announced as part of Telecom’s half-year results, which showed the company gaining 200,000 mobile customers in the past 12 months and announcing a new cutting edge internet-delivered TV and movie service called ShowmeTV.
“The upcoming launch of ShowmeTV offers all New Zealanders an exciting new choice about how to get their home entertainment, which we think represents the future of how people will access content. It’s a great example of how this company is changing by delivering the sorts of new services our customers want,” said Mr Moutter.
Last year, Telecom undertook a number of bold steps, including:
· launching its 4G mobile data network, available to its customers at no extra charge – and underpinned by a brand-new core data network using state-of-the-art optical transport technology;
· revamping phone booths into a nationwide network of public WiFi hotspots to give customers even better connections when out and about, and enhance the value of mobility solutions for business clients;
· launching new generation Ultra Fibre services on the government-supported Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network, and faster VDSL broadband over the existing copper network for customers not connected to UFB;
· through its Gen-i unit, becoming a leader in Cloud services for business and government customers, purchasing IT infrastructure and data centre specialist Revera and building new data centres in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin;
· winning the contract to build a 21st century online educational platform for New Zealand schools to maximise the digital opportunities created by the UFB rollout under the Government’s Network for Learning initiative;
· using digital technology to encourage Kiwi generosity and revolutionise the giving sector –creating New Zealand’s first zero-fees online fundraising platform for charities and worthy causes through the Telecom Foundation’s purchase of fast-growing local startup Givealittle;
· committing a further $149 million to become the biggest player in the newly available 700 MHz band radio spectrum, enhancing the efficient rollout of 4G mobile data services to rural New Zealand.
· exiting the Australian market to focus on building a better technology future for New Zealand.
“We’re operating at a faster pace than in the past and we have to appeal to a broader range of customers in a competitive market place. Our successful initiatives in 4G mobile, fibre, WiFi, cloud services and applications have given us new momentum,” said Mr Moutter.
“When we embarked on this journey, we knew that at some point we would likely move beyond the Telecom name – to something that better reflects what our customers expect from us. Last year we gave our mass-market brand a colour and style refresh to reflect the changes we had already made as a business – and customers have responded positively.
“We’ve now decided to take the next step. We believe Spark symbolises what we are now - a confident, forward-looking technology company that helps people to connect, engage and share their lives in amazing ways, and helps businesses to compete and prosper in the digital age.
“Spark will be the new face of our company, focused on ensuring that everyone can live, work and play in more amazing ways. In the city, at the beach, at home, on the farm. From Otara to Otorohanga, from Omaha to Oamaru.”
Spark Digital Solutions will be the new name for Gen-i, providing solutions for the rapidly evolving needs of business, enterprise and government clients as they meet the demands of an increasingly globalised, connected and mobile customer base.
Spark Ventures will be the new name for Telecom Digital Ventures and will be focused on accelerating the company’s future focus, delivering connected digital experiences that customers love and applications such as Smart Data analytics that will power tomorrow’s successful businesses.
Spark New Zealand Limited is intended to be the new name for the parent company, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand Limited.
Until the name change takes place later this year, the company will continue to trade as Telecom and Gen-i.
“Technology-enabled digital services are changing the world. We will have succeeded when Spark is seen as an indispensable part of people’s everyday life and we are helping to unleash New Zealand’s potential,” said Moutter.
As for its financials, Telecom announced a flat net profit after tax of NZ$167 million for the half year ending 31 December 2013.
“Over the last year we have moved quickly and decisively, putting several critical foundations in place and making a number of bold market moves," says chairman Mark Verbiest in a release. "We have gained greater traction on our cost competitiveness, increasing the projected free cash flow benefits we believe will be generated by our Turn around Programme, a centrally-driven series of business improvement initiatives. Our investments in revamping our mass market brands, Telecom and Skinny, have delivered greater cut-through in key markets. This has given us the conviction to move beyond the Telecom name, and better reflect our digital services capability and future focus."
Last year the mass-market Telecom retail brand was revitalised with a new look, as ex-general manager of brand, communications and digital Kellie Nathan explained before she took a job at Pumpkin Patch, and the network of Business Hubs for small and medium business customers was relaunched. The release says "these moves have shown an immediate impact in increased sales, foot traffic and positive customer feedback. Digital customer self-service options were also significantly expanded, including the launching of a new Telecom App that has already attracted over 60,000 downloads, and a significant growth in customer take-up of My Telecom and e-billing options."