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Bill Bennett

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NZ fibre uptake: not bad

New Zealand’s UFB fibre network now passes 177,886 premises. Of these only 5133 or 2.9 percent have connected to UFB services. As with the earlier roll-out reports, what some observers see as a relatively low fibre uptake triggered hand-wringing in the media and elsewhere online.

Some perspective is called for. 2.9 percent isn’t a bad number at this stage.

Telecom NZ, the largest ISP, has just started selling fibre connections. Vodafone, the second largest, has yet to begin.  Some houses, passed but not connected, are still sitting on waiting lists – a lag is inevitable.

Fibre marketing is still in its infancy. And, anyway, people don’t have to jump and buy right away. I’d be more worried if New Zealanders unthinkingly immediately plonked down cash for every new gee-gaw that comes on the market.

Another point to consider; what would be the ideal take-up rate?

Fixed line telephones never reached every single NZ premise even when dial-up was the only option. Today’s consumers have other choices. There are ADSL and mobile broadband.

Then there are the measly data caps. Consumers on low-end UFB plans could chew through a month’s data in an hour or so.

Finally, there is still no compelling reason for an ordinary New Zealand household to buy fibre. The government effectively killed consumer demand for fibre by enacting Section 92A of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act and allowing Sky TV to have an effective monopoly on entertainment content.

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