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telecommunications

Slingshot offers unlimited gigabit fibre for under a ton

Slingshot gigabit fibre broadband

 

Slingshot has dropped the price of its fastest unlimited data fibre broadband plan to a shade under $100. The Gigantic gigabit fibre plan is $99.95 a month. Slingshot says it is available in most towns and cities where there is fibre.

It is an aggressive price move from Slingshot. The company has thrown down the gauntlet to larger service providers who already complain about margins. Offering the cheapest option is vital in a market like New Zealand where consumers tend to buy on price more than any other criteria.

Spark charges $40 more for a service with similar characteristics although it does offer streaming TV and wi-fi hotspots as added incentives. The company’s no-frills BigPipe brand charges $130 for a naked, unlimited gigabit plan. Vodafone’s comparable plan is $110. 2degrees charges $115 for a similar product.

A gigabit by any other name would smell as sweet

The Gigantic plan includes gigabit fibre. While the term is in common use elsewhere in the world. New Zealand’s Commerce Commission rules don’t allow ISPs to describe plans as gigabit fibre.

That’s because there are network overheads so the available speeds to customers are less than the full 1000 mbps. In most cases customers get around 800 to 950 mbps. The company’s announcement is more cautious, it warns customers may only see speeds in the 700 to 900 mbps range.

Either way, it is still by far the fastest option and the best choice for heavy media users or homes with many devices. Whatever you call them, these plans mean there is never a case of not having enough broadband at home.

Slingshot General Manager Taryn Hamilton says the extra speed: “Makes a huge difference to the quality of the online experience”. He says the price cut is designed to stimulate greater take up of the faster plans.

Gigabit plans are still relatively new. Only a small number of users choose them, in part that’s because they normally come at a premium price. However, that’s changing fast. By dropping the price under $100, Slingshot has reduced the gap with the more popular 100 mbps plans. This means customers can upgrade to the best experience for a small extra amount each month.

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telecommunications

What you’ll pay for Vodafone gigabit fibre

New Zealand’s second largest ISP, Vodafone, says it will soon offer gigabit fibre plans.

The price in the Northpower, Enable and Ultra Fast Fibre UFB areas will be $140 a month. It says “Elsewhere”, read that as the Chorus UFB area, prices will be released in the “near future”.

Vodafone stands out from the service provider pack in two important ways. First, it owns a vertically integrated cable network in Wellington, Christchurch and the Kapiti Coast.

Second, it is working towards a merger with Sky TV which will put it in the box seat for local sport, movie and television services.

Gigabit upgrade

Vodafone has rebranded its hybrid fibre-coaxial network as FibreX. The company’s consumer director Matt Williams says there has been a $22 million investment upgrading this network for gigabit services.

Williams says there will be a compelling offer for customers in the network area to upgrade in the near future. Most observers expect that to include a bundled price that includes SkyTV services.

Vodafone’s FibreX price will be interesting. Because the UFB network will overbuild the FibreX network, there’s a competitive constraint on the amount Vodafone can charge set by the fibre network wholesalers.

At the same time, the FibreX network is vertically integrated, so there is no-one clipping the ticket.

What you’ll pay for gigabit fibre broadband

2degrees  $140
Bigpipe  $129
full flavour  $110
My Republic  $120
Orcon  $135
Primo Wireless  $129
Spark  $140
Stuff Fibre  $115
Vodafone $140

 

MyRepublic charges $60 for the first six months for customers signing a 24-month contract. Over the period of the contract, the monthly fee works out at $105.

Orcon customers signing for 24 months get an Xbox One S.

There is a $50 installation fee at Bigpipe but no contracts.

Existing Spark broadband customers get the Lightbox video-on-demand service and free access to the nationwide wi-fi hotspot network. There’s also a $10 a month discount when a mobile phone is on the same account.

Full Flavour is running a promotion where new customers pay only $100 a month for the first 12 months. There are no long-term contracts and installation is free.

Prices are complicated at 2degrees. A connection costs $95 a month, then you pay $45 for a 1Gbps “speed boost”. Customers signing for 24-months pay $60 a month for the first 12-months. The monthly cost over the full period of the contract works out at around $124 a month. There’s a $10 a month discount to 2degrees phone customers.

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telecommunications

What you’ll pay for gigabit fibre

The short answer to the question is gigabit fibre costs “less than you might think”.

If you live in parts of New Zealand covered by the Ultrafast Broadband network, you can now download data at gigabit speeds. Most of the time that means services running at 1Gbps down and 500Mbps up.

Prices in Dunedin, winner of the Chorus Gigatown promotion, hover around $90 for an unlimited plan. In the rest of the country you can expect to pay around $120.

Unlimited gigabit fibre plans are a little more expensive than unlimited 100Mbps fibre plans, perhaps $10 to $2o a month extra depending on the service provider.

Either way, gigabit fibre won’t break the bank. And they are cheap by historic standards. Twenty years ago an ISDN line in Auckland, that’s a 128kbps dial-up connection, cost $50 a month plus $3 an hour.

Unless you have modest internet needs you should choose an unlimited data plan. If you have modest internet needs, what are you doing looking at gigabit services?

Gigabit fibre plans

Here we’ve listed the headline prices. That is, what you can expect to pay every month for an unlimited 1Gbps service. These may differ from the prices you see advertised because some service providers offer discounted starting rates for a limited period at the start of a 24 month contract.

2degrees  $140
Bigpipe  $129
full flavour  $110
My Republic  $120
Orcon  $135
Primo Wireless  $129
Spark  $140
Stuff Fibre  $115

Prices are lower in Dunedin thanks to the Gigatown promotion. Wicked Networks sells an unlimited gigabit plan in the city for $90 a month.

MyRepublic charges $60 for the first six months for customers signing a 24-month contract. Over the period of the contract the monthly fee works out at $105.

Orcon customers signing for 24 months get an Xbox One S.

There is a $50 installation fee at Bigpipe but no contracts.

Full Flavour is running a promotion where new customers pay only $100 a month for the first 12 months. There are no long-term contracts and installation is free.

Prices are complicated at 2degrees. A connection costs $95 a month, then you pay $45 for a 1Gbps “speed boost”. Customers signing for 24 months pay $60 a month for the first 12 months. The monthly cost over the full period of the contract works out at around $124 a month. Since this was written Slingshot is selling gigabit fibre for less than $100 a month.

List updated to note different price structure for gigabit plans in Dunedin.

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telecommunications

Orcon Xbox deal lures gigabit gamers

Orcon consumer general manager Taryn Hamilton says his company will be first off the block when gigabit fibre services go live around New Zealand on October 1.

Hamilton says his company will be aggressive going after the market. It is selling an unlimited, naked gigabit plan for $135.

To sweeten the deal, Orcon will give an Xbox One S to customers signing a 24-month contract. Those signing for 12 months will get one month free.

Hamilton says Orcon was the first ISP to offer Ultra-Fast Broadband and plans to stay ahead of the pack. “We’ve been providing gigabit plans in Dunedin since 2014 and we have the technology and systems to support high-end plans”, he says.

Orcon is only one of four broadband brands owned by Vocus, New Zealand’s third largest telecommunications company after Spark NZ and Vodafone.

The other Vocus broadband brands are Callplus, Slingshot and Flip. Although each sell similar products and in some cases share infrastructure and services, each addresses a different market sector. Orcon targets more technically advanced and more demanding customers.

Big cities first

Orcon says it has already begun taking orders for its gigabit plans in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch. Dunedin already has gigabit fibre.

Hamilton says existing customers who order an upgrade this week can expect to download at gigabit speeds in about a week. It will take a little longer to put customers transferring from other ISPs online.

The first gigabit areas will soon be joined by New Plymouth, Whangarei, Cambridge and Te Awamutu.

To show the company’s preparation for faster fibre speeds Orcon showed journalists around its central Auckland facility, one of three sites in the city servicing fibre customers.

At the site, Orcon showed cabinets full of caching hardware including equipment for Google-You Tube, Facebook and Akamai. It has similar equipment in a handful of sites around the country. The ISP says it now caches more than half its network traffic locally and this helps gets data to customers faster.

Story amended to include updated price information. 

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telecommunications

Bigpipe to offer gigabit fibre

Bigpipe will join the gigabit cool kids when faster wholesale services go online next month.

Spark’s no-frills ISP says it will offer an unlimited, naked, gigabit plan for $129 a month.

Bigpipe says those customers already on the company’s Elite plan, will be upgraded to Gigabit speed free of charge. At present Big Pipe’s Elite plan customers get 200 Mbps up and down. This will move to 1 Gbps down and 500 Mbps up.

The ISP says it has already started upgrading customers in the Enable and Ultrafast Fibre areas. The Chorus customers will get their upgrades next month when the Chorus gigabit fibre service begins operating.

There’s no word when Bigpipe’s parent company will offer gigabit plans. Officially it is coming “over the next few months”. We do know the price will be $140 a month.[1] Interested customers are invited to pre-register for the service at Spark’s website.

From a consumer point of view, 1 Gbps is effectively infinite. When coupled with an unlimited plan its means there are no constraints on your internet experience.

There’s been some talk along the lines of no-one needs a gigabit connection. While there is something in this, having plenty of headroom means there is alway enough bandwidth on hand for the few moments when you need it. Required speeds might be well under 1 Gbps most of the time, but streaming video and other demanding apps can cause temporary demand spikes.


  1. The extra $11 pays for phone support. Bigpipe doesn’t have a call centre, customers get help via the net. Given that a lot of tech savvy customers never, or almost never, need handholding, unbundling support this way makes sense.

    Spark customers also get: modem, Lightbox, Xtra email, McAfee security, Spark Thanks deals and mobile device access to the WiFi phone box network. ↩