Good news, everyone! Would you like your town to be a Gigatown? It might just happen. The Government has announced the scope for phase two of the ultra-fast fibre rollout, and there’s some sweet tidbits in there. Read on…

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Whooaaa, we’re half-way there

The New Zealand ultrafast broadband project is coming along nicely, with the latest figures from June putting it at 54 percent complete. This means the goal of bringing fibre to 75 percent of Kiwis by 2019 is well on the way to being achieved. Excellent. But wait, there’s more…

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UFB extension project

The government has announced they will spend up to $210 million to extend the reach of ultra-fast broadband with the unsurprisingly-named “UFB extension project” (UFB2). The idea is a lot like the current project, with government looking at partnering with local power companies to form local fibre companies. Or they might contract this out to Chorus.

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Gigatown for everyone!

Excitingly, UFB2 looks like it’ll be a hell of a lot faster than the current standard – it features a range of new products including a gigabit residential connection. This means  every small town that gets UFB2 will – potentially – be a gigatown! Hopefully this will give some incentive for Chorus and the local fibre companies to offer gigabit for people in UFB1 areas too.

 
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What this means for you, person who can’t currently get fibre but wants it:

The government is looking at a list of more than 100 extra towns to get UFB2. They range from Wanaka (with an estimated population of 9251 in 2023) all the way down to Patea (population 893). However, the list isn’t final. The aim of the project is to increase fibre coverage to at least 80% of the population, but there are reports that it might be possible to increase this to at least 90%. There are also plans to expand to fringe areas just outside the UFB1 area, so don’t fret if you just missed out on fibre! We should know which towns will get UFB2 by the end of the year. The build should start next year, and the project should be completed in 2022. Good times.

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Gotta go G.fast!

Interestingly, there is a provision for LFCs to use a technology called G.fast. While G.fast sounds like a new energy drink, it’s actually technology where fibre is installed up to the kerb, then it uses the existing copper phone line to bring the connection inside the house. You just need to swap out a modem to get fibre-like speeds. This means there’s no need to dig up the driveway and could save a bit of hassle with things like consents and install processes. However, G.fast is still an emerging technology, and overseas there are concerns about what speeds it can actually get. The requirements do specify that any G.fast technology used must be able to reach 1Gbps and must be approved by the government.

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The fibre future…

It’s exciting to see where the New Zealand fibre project is going. Soon it shouldn’t matter if a child lives in Auckland or in Twizel – they will be able to get the same digital opportunities. Bigpipe will be here every step of the way. We’re currently offering UFB to Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, and we will be expanding to even more areas in the future! (And if you want a nice zippy no-caps no-contracts ADSL connection while you wait for fibre, you know where to find us.)