New Zealand UFB roll out ahead of schedule but take rates lag

The deployment of New Zealand’s fiber-based Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) network is ahead of schedule. Getting customers to sign up is not.

The deployment of New Zealand’s fiber-based Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network is ahead of schedule. Getting customers to sign up is not.

New Zealand Government Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams announced August 2 that the UFB network has passed 76,000 homes, businesses, and anchor institutions, 6000 more than its one-year target. Network deployment has begun in 24 cities and towns; service is available in 17 of these, Minister Adams said. UFB partners have deployed approximately 17,000 km of fiber, she added.

The companion Rural Broadband Initiative program (RBI), which will use copper-based and wireless technologies to bring broadband services to areas of low population density, has almost kept pace, pacing 69,000 premises.

Minister Adams predicted that UFB fiber will have passed 235,000 premises by July 2013, while the RBI will have a potential service footprint of 100,000 by that date.

However, rolling out services is one thing, and getting people to sign up for them is clearly something else. Only 1200 customers have signed up to receive services so far, Minister Adams admitted. Nevertheless she seemed unconcerned.

“It has always been our belief, based on overseas experience, that uptake will build gradually over the period of the network build,” Minister Adams explained. “We are starting to see some exciting product offerings from retail service providers, but it takes time for products to be developed for the market and for people to recognize the value of UFB.

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