4 Nov 2012

More homes to get free UFB connection

9:42 am on 4 November 2012

The Government says a new deal on ultra-fast broadband connections means more residential properties will be able to get connected for free.

Previously, partners involved in the rollout would have provided free connection only to properties between 15 and 30 metres from the fibre network laid under roads.

Under the new agreement, Chorus, Enable and Northpower will provide free residential connections for distances up to 200 metres from the road until at least the end of 2015.

The remaining ultra-fast broadband (UFB) partner company, Ultra-Fast Fibre, which operates in the central North Island, has already undertaken to provide free residential connections until 2019.

Communications and Technology Minister Amy Adams says it's expected that 38% of residential properties will be connected to ultra-fast broadband by the end of 2015.

Chorus will contribute $20 million towards the cost of additional connections.

The Government says it has provided some additional funding but this will not push out the $1.35 billion budget. It says the UFB partners have agreed to fund the majority of the package.

Estimates suggest about 0.3% of UFB residential premises fall into the category of having a connection longer than 200 metres, the Government says.

Uptake predicted to be slow

Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen says the cost of the connection has been one of the biggest impediments to residential uptake of the fibre network.

He says the whole project is based on the back of rolling out first to schools and medical facilities, then to businesses and then to residential sectors.

Mr Brislen says it's estimated it will be three to six years before a large number of people migrate over to the fibre network and most residential programmes won't take place until 2015.

He says the real economic benefit only starts to kick in once people are connected.

Mr Brislen says more than 60% of the country will still be unable to get fibre by the start of 2016 and most residential customers will be reliant on the copper network until at least then.

The Government says it intends to continue to work towards free residential connections until the end of 2019, when the network is due to be completed.