Juha Saarinen writes:
The UFB fibre to the premises project has two and a half years to go before completion, and you’d have to be very churlish to declare it anything else than a success.
Apart from the occasional installation wobble, you rarely hear anything else than “yeah, we’ve got UFB” if you ask about someone’s broadband installation. Which is exactly how it should be, broadband that Just Works so that you don’t have to waste time and life over it.
Yep it has been very successful, and considering how much could go wrong, it is a tribute to those involved that it has delivered so well.
The local fibre companies were asked to take a leap of faith.
Would people switch from copper broadband, and in enough numbers to bring a return on their share of the UFB investment?
Were they rolling out hot new broadband tech or dropping millions on a giant, government driven white elephant that most people wouldn’t care about?
There were those who claimed it would be a white elephant as there was no need for fibre type speeds. They also claimed that mobile technology would be as good or better.
But the demand for fibre has been huge.
Australia took a different, more complex path with its NBN for political reasons and switched away from a pure fibre network.
They are now literally paying the price. Across the ditch, the cost per premise to deploy the multi-technology mix NBN which can use copper, cable, wireless and in some places, fibre broadband has gone up to A$3100 ($3288) this year and the government has had to top up the network build funding with tens of billions of dollars.
The latest cost estimate is A$51 billion for an inferior product to what NZ did for NZ$1.5 billion (actually around half that from a pure investment basis).
Despite the higher cost, Aussie NBN customers receive pretty sad broadband service. Telstra for example advertises 20 to 40 megabit/s minimum NBN plans for up to A$90 a month. For the same amount or a little more, UFB customers can get 900/400 Mbps fibre connections. I can also tell you that Aussies hate to hear that comparison, and that there’s 10 gigabit/s UFB on trial currently.
I think the fibre initiative is the best infrastructure project in recent history.