New Zealand Wholesale Fiber Network Gets Ready for Next Stage

Crown Fibre Holdings, the New Zealand entity responsible for the New Zealand Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) network across the country, has issued a new request for proposals to extend the network from coverage of 75 percent of New Zealanders to at least 80 percent of the population.

The New Zealand government has committed up to $210 million for the effort, which will provide minimum download speeds of 100 Megabits per second, upgradable to 1 Gbps for households and 10 Gbps for businesses.

Up to this point, Chorus, the wholesale provider of access services, has built about 70 percent of the UFB network in a public-private partnership with the government.

Chorus has 24 areas around New Zealand where it is deploying the UFB network. At completion, the Chorus UFB network will run past more than 830,000 homes, businesses, schools and health facilities throughout the country by the end of 2019.

The average cost per premises passed of NZ$2,948 was at the bottom end of the guidance range previously given of NZ$2,900 to NZ$3,200, Chorus said. One might charitably argue such network costs are on the high side, even compared to neighboring Australia, which uses a similar infrastructure model for high speed access.

The standard cost to connect premises averaged NZ$1,680 during the period, and Chorus remains focused on reducing these costs, the company said.

“In particular, the process to connect premises in multi-dwelling units currently averages $6,500 per building in addition to the standard connection costs,” said Mark Ratcliffe, Chorus CEO. “This will be an area where Chorus will work with the industry to seek solutions that remove blockages in the current processes that drive cost and complexity,”

As I read it, that suggests the network costs US$1866, while connecting a customer costs an additional US$1063.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said four and a half years after the first fiber trench was dug in Whangarei, the government’s broadband initiative is more than 50 percent complete with around 750,000 citizens already able to connect to faster, more reliable broadband.

More than 110 towns and communities are cited as potential areas for inclusion in the project.
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