The Fibre Future is Coming

In New Zealand, one company controls the copper cabling delivered to houses. They sell access to Retail ISPs, at a fixed price. Individual customer connections are mapped through to the ISP, who handles all customer management, upstream access, enhanced services, etc. This means that most people have many options for their ISP, with everyone competing on a common platform. Switching ISP is trivial, and so churn rates are high.

Fibre (aka UFB, or “Ultra-Fast Broadband”) is now being rolled out across New Zealand, with a similar structure to copper - one company rolls out the physical infrastructure, and Retail ISPs compete to provide customer services across that fibre. One difference is that it is not one single company rolling out fibre nationwide. Chorus is doing most of the roll-out, but in some towns there are other providers. This is a sensible approach, that takes advantage of the fibre that was laid before a national strategy was developed. The goal is to deliver 100Mbps to 75% of houses by 2019. OK, it’s not super-fast, but it’s pretty good, and a lot better than some countries.

Obviously it takes time to lay all this fibre. Chorus has an interactive map showing anticipated availability dates. Punch in your address, and you can see what’s available, and what is planned. Sadly I got the dreaded:

UFB deployment dates for your area are still being developed

Or in other words, “We’ve got no plans to deliver it to you any time soon, and you should be happy with your 14Mbps ADSL2+.” Actually my ADSL speeds are OK, but I need greater upload capability. There has been talk that uptake is too low (5.5% of houses with UFB available as at Dec 31 2013), but I would sign up the first day that it becomes available. To rub it in, VDSL is one block from my house, and UFB is slated to reach one block away later this year.

Outbreak of Common Sense

The local council is currently replacing the kerbs and footpaths (sidewalks to my American friends) in my area. In a stunning outbreak of common sense, Chorus and the paving crews somehow talked to each other, and realised that they could save a lot of time and money by putting the fibre in when the footpaths are being re-built.

Here’s my ripped-up footpath:


And looking closer, we can see the conduit that has been laid:

Fibre Ducting


Fibre Access

I don’t know how long it will take to actually hook it all up, but I will be switching over as soon as I can. Choices right now are 30Mb down/10 up, 50/20, or 100/50. All at prices not much different to ADSL. Oh yes please.