From June 7 Chorus will sell VDSL on its copper network at the same price as ADSL.
The clue to why this is a smart move lies in the technology’s full name: Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line. VDSL speeds are noticeably higher than today’s ADSL services.
Theoretically, VDSL download speeds top out at 50Mbps, although to get the full benefit you need to be relatively close to an exchange or roadside cabinet. Typically users can expect to see two or three times today’s ADSL download speeds if they switch.
But that’s not the whole story. Upload speeds are many times faster than ADSL upload speeds. Typically New Zealand users upload at less than 1Mbps, VDSL can upload at 16Mbps, but users will more realistically see 5 to 10Mbps.
In practice, you’ll notice the faster upload speed the first time you attempt to send a large file. Higher upload speeds will make a huge difference to people using cloud computing, social media and video applications. Gamers like it too.
The gamble could potentially pay huge dividends for Chorus on two counts as it continues its nationwide fibre to the premises roll-out.
First, VDSL will get users hooked on fast internet services like video conferencing and keep up interest on speedy services during the six or so remaining years it will take for the UFB network to reach all urban areas.
Second, it will get people hooked on fast land-line services. This matters because overseas experience shows wireless broadband services challenge fibre uptake in places where consumers have a clear choice. Fast wireless internet will reach most urban areas sooner than the UFB, so VDSL effectively diminishes the competitive threat.
As a byproduct, VDSL will also encourage service providers to focus on high-end UFB plans. Speeds will be close to the 30Mbps offered in low-end UFB plans.
Chorus says it will stop selling new VDSL connections in areas where the fibre network is completed.