Network provider Chorus announced in partnership with the Government today that it would contribute $20 million towards the cost of connecting “non-standard” homes, in an effort to encourage greater uptake of high-speed broadband.
Up to 30 per cent of homes within the UFB rollout zone are thought to have fallen into the Chorus “non-standard” category.
Paul Brislen, of the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), said many urban houses were more than 15m from the street, Chorus’ previous limit for free fibre.
So today’s announcement that Chorus would extend that limit to 200m was “tremendous”.
“That captures 99.3 per cent of the [UFB network] population, possibly even more …That means everybody that can get connected will be able to without extra cost.”
However, Brislen said there was a drawback in that the offer only lasted until 2015, by which time only about a third of the network would be completed.
“Most of the connections for residential customers won’t take place until after 2015, so we need to use this to get the ball rolling and then revisit it rather quickly.”
I suspect come 2015, things may get extended – time will tell.
Chorus, which has contracts to provide 70 per cent of the Government’s UFB network, has so far rolled out 1500km of ultra-fast fibre, enough to connect 72,000 customers.
But to date, only 700 have signed up.
Brislen said the problem was that speed alone was not enough to encourage many customers to switch to UFB. Overseas, penetration of ultra-fast broadband was about 38 per cent and a good uptake in New Zealand was important to justify the expense.
Absolutely few will sign up for speed alone. What will push uptake is when companies such as Sky roll out TV and movies on demand services that work far better over fibre. A killer home video-conferencing app that works through your TV set and is as simple to use as a TV remote will also get people flocking to it.