Demand for ultra fast broadband continues to grow, with the Government reporting one in five of eligible New Zealand households, schools and businesses have connected to its UFB initiative.
According to Communications Minister Amy Adams, 184,000 households and businesses connected to the network by the end of February 2016, taking total UFB uptake to 20%.
“Connections are now growing at over 11,000 per month. In just the eight weeks since New Year’s Day, a further 22,000 households and businesses have been connected – equivalent to the whole of a city the size of Whangarei,” Adams says.
“This is a terrific milestone to have reached, just over five years after we began building the infrastructure. All the indicators are that demand for UFB is strong, not just in the cities, but in our provincial towns too,” she says.
Fourteen urban areas now have UFB fully deployed, including larger centres such as Whangarei, Whanganui, Blenheim, Timaru and last month, New Plymouth.
Uptake is highest in Whangarei (26%), Blenheim (25%) and Tauranga (24%).
“I expect the uptake process to further speed up after changes I announced last week to improve access to the UFB network take effect,” explains Adams.
“These changes reduce the need to apply for consents for shared driveways which will help translate more orders into connections,” she says.
Benefits of UFB include enjoying a wide range of entertainment options, improvements in business productivity, and better online learning, Adams adds.
The Government has set a connectivity target that would see 99% of New Zealanders able to access peak broadband speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025.
In addition to the original $1.65 billion funding for the UFB and Rural Broadband Initiative programmes, a further $360 million has been set aside to extend both programmes and to create a Mobile Black Spot Fund.
The UFB extension contracts are currently being negotiated, while planning is also underway to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative with further details to be provided in coming months.