Whangarei-based Northpower is an electricity distribution company that runs it’s own fibre network. Northpower is one of New Zealand’s four regulated local fibre monopolies delivering Ultra-Fast Broadband.
Whangarei-based fibre provider Northpower says it has demonstrated 10Gbps network speeds.
A press release from Northpower partner Calix says this is the world’s first live test of its NG-Pon2 technology.
Northpower’s test served 10Gbps to both a business and to a residential home.
NG-Pon2 is a standard developed by the International Telecommunications Union. It is backwards compatible with existing Pon networks, so, in theory, could roll out across the entire New Zealand UFB network.
In Whangarei, Northpower used the same Calix software defined network technology it uses elsewhere to achieve 10Gbps. Calix Gigahubs handled the customer end.
Symmetric means 10Gbps up and down
NG-Pon can handle up to 40Gbps of total capacity and speeds of up to 10Gbps per customer. It’s symmetrical, so the 10Gbps speed is both up and down.
A feature of NG-Pon2 is that is uses multiple wavelengths on a single fibre. A network operator can divide these up for use by different service providers without needing separate Pons. In practice, providers can change or update services without interfering with other providers.
Northpower says it plans to expand the use of NG-Pon2 on its network.
It says a benefit of the Calix SDN is that it reduces the need for frequent hardware upgrades. This keeps costs down.
Northpower ahead of demand
Of course nobody needs fibre that fast today. But that’s not the point. At the dawn of personal computing Microsoft boss Bill Gates said computers would never need more than 640K of ram. Look how that turned out.
Virtual reality applications are on the way which will easily use 1Gbps. Northpower customers will be able to run that and still have headroom for other applications.
Northpower has shown there’s a straightforward upgrade path to 10Gbps. It’ll be ready when speed demands rise. And it’s there today for any Whangarei resident with say, a large hadron collider in their garden.
We’re already on track to connect 75 percent of the population to the fibre network by 2019.
It’s going to be hard for a small country with a geographically distributed population to do as well as city-states like Hong Kong and Singapore. But as more people sign up for fibre, the average connection speed will increase.
This morning I was on TV3 Firstline talking about the Motorola Moto X which I tested over Easter. For a moment I thought my demonstration of the voice activation wasn’t going to work, but the phone got there in the end.
When I played back the video to check it before posting, the phone heard me talking, fired up and gave me a fresh weather forecast. The Moto X is quickly becoming my favourite Android phone. These demonstrations are always nerve-wracking on live television.
NorthPower will soon finish building Whangarei’s fibre network. It will be the first city in New Zealand to have a full, ultrafast broadband network.
Most places in Whangarei are already connected to the Northpower Fibre UFB network. By the end of May the job will be over and more than 19,000 homes and businesses will able to cut the copper wires. NorthPower’s agreement with Crown Fibre Holdings was to complete the network by June 2014.
A December 2013 broadband update from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment reported the UFB project reached 27 percent of people in the coverage area. So Whangarei is well ahead of the rest of the country.
To be fair to NorthPower’s rivals, the network build was already underway when the UFB project started and the company is connecting houses using overhead cables, elsewhere fibre companies are running cables underground. Even so, it’s an achievement.
Being first cab off the rank is a better prize than winning Chorus’s Gigatown promotion. Whangarei residents will see fast internet connections up to five years ahead of some of us living in the Chorus fibre footprint.
If the promised economic benefits from having fibre running through suburban streets are real, we’ll see the effects first in the Northland city. If you know of anyone researching the economic effects of fibre in the city get in touch. I can find lots of fine words predicting there will be economic benefits in Whangarei, but no hard data or firm estimates — there are numbers for other parts of the country.
Telecom NZ adds Whangarei fibre service
NorthPower says its uptake rate is now at around eight percent. That’s a modest figure, but ahead of the roughly five percent nationwide.
That uptake number is likely to get a shot in the arm from New Zealand’s biggest broadband service provider. Earlier today Telecom NZ said it has launched its fibre plans in the city. The lowest cost residential option is $85 a month for a 40GB plan.