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From today Spark fibre customers wanting a voice telephone service no longer need to buy a separate copper line as well as fibre. And people living in fibre-only places can now get the closest thing to an old-school telephone.

Fibre Landline is Spark’s new voice-over-fibre product. It provides a dedicated path for voice traffic alongside data on the same line. Most other telephone options for New Zealand fibre connections are Voice-over-IP, which layer on top of data traffic.

Spark Fibre Landline is available as a $50 standalone service with a broadband connection. This goes some way to solving the problem faced by customers, particularly old folk, who find themselves in new subdivisions or buildings that are fibre only.

I talked about this problem on Radio New Zealand’s Nine-to-Noon programme earlier this week with Kathrine Ryan and Craig Young from Tuanz. Until now older people, who are not interested in broadband, but have fibre only connections have paid $70 a month for basic UFB plans. This compares with $53 for a copper line.

Voice calling over fibre

It  isn’t just old folk who need decent voice calling. There are still times a landline is a better tool than a mobile.

Chris Quin, Spark’s home, mobile and business CEO, says company engineers are able to manage and monitor these services separately, which means customers will get better voice quality and improved broadband performance even when the network is busy.

Fibre Landline addresses another possible fibre shortcoming with a service that can divert incoming calls to a mobile in the case of a power cut.

Spark also announced new 200 Mbps plans and price cuts on fibre services. The company’s cheapest plan, Ultra Fibre 30 is now $79 a month for a 40GB service and $99 for uncapped. An uncapped 200 Mbps service is now $129. Spark cut prices by $26 a month on its 100 Mbps download services, but has reduced the upload speeds from 50 Mbps to 20 Mpbs.

There are also Fibre Landline products for business customers.