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Bill Bennett


New Zealand’s affordable broadband

A short report from Jon Brewer at Telco2 provides some much-needed perspective on whether New Zealand has affordable broadband.

The ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development worries that broadband is unaffordable when the cost of a service is more than five percent of household income. Brewer measures how New Zealand stacks up against this benchmark. Our story is largely positive.

Brewer compares the price of broadband services available in New Zealand with the average household incomes of people able to buy those services. He found fibre, ADSL and the Rural Broadband Initiative wireless services all qualify as affordable. Satellite broadband generally does not.

By the ITU’s measure, 98% of New Zealanders enjoy access to affordable broadband. Households covered by the Rural Broadband Initiative have affordable broadband, but must spend twice as much of their household income on it as households on ADSL or Fibre.

As for the two percent of the population that don’t have affordable broadband access, the question is what can New Zealand do to fix the problem. Are we happy to leave these people off the map or should the government subsidise an alternative to expensive satellite broadband?



7 thoughts on “New Zealand’s affordable broadband

    1. That last two percent are people living in remote places, most won’t have electricity.

      The government plans always left them off the terrestrial broadband map. Satellite is the only viable option although some could be connected with fixed wireless links – maybe as a later stage or RBI.

      One question is whether we need to subsidise satellite services for these people, but so many other aspects of remote life are just as expensive. It could be we just accept that two percent are forever off the map as far as broadband goes.

      1. Yes, well, I think it doesn’t matter that we don’t have 100% coverage, as it’s not like we 100% cover everywhere with phones or sewage or water or electricity. There are sacrifices for living in the whops.

  1. We are 20 minutes from Albany in auckland and only just receive RBI, but it is very slow, cell phone reception might get to one bar. Our area has many developments planned but yet Chorus will not consider our area.
    Most of our neighbours have satelittle options where internet is “dependable”. It is arrogant to continue stating if you choose to live in the wops then its your issue. New Zealand should be investing more rurally (and should have prior to UFB when speeds on VDSL+ were already fast enough for everyday consumers – and subsidising satelitte internet.)

  2. Hmmm struggling a bit to see how <85km from Auckland CBD could be considered the wops…

    1. Indeed. When saying the wops, I’m talking about roads-don’t-go-that-far, not 20min out of Albany.

  3. Yes, it sounds like rubbish internet just “20 minutes from Albany”.

    I wrote a story years ago when the UFB was first planned where I interviewed Conor English at Federated Farmers. The gist was the NZ$1.5 billion should have gone on rural broadband and the $300 million could have helped kickstart urban broadband.

    He had a good point. Commercial providers were always going to run fibre through posh and even medium-posh suburbs in the big cities. They may have taken longer than the UFB timetable, but it would have happened soon enough. On the other hand, there’s little commercial incentive to connect the back blocks – so that’s where the subsidies should go.

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