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After a slow start, New Zealand’s fibre network is gathering momentum.

Crown Fibre Holdings reports 300,000 end users were able to connect to the network in June 2013.

Meanwhile the June quarter saw a sharp rise in the number of actual connections from around 6,000 to 10,000. With the nation’s two largest service providers, Telecom NZ and Vodafone now selling UFB and a backlog of customers waiting for connection that number looks set to climb.

Speaking at the launch of his company’s residential UFB offering earlier this month, Vodafone consumer director, Matt Williams said he was confident his company’s TV package will deliver more customers.

Vodafone is the main new entrant to digital’s list of residential UFB plans.

There are few other tweaks. Our table just lists the faster 100/50 Mbps fibre plans because, in our view, these are the ones that matter. The slower 30/10 Mbps fibre speed isn’t much of a step up from copper.

We’ve deliberately kept the list simple. Two things to watch for: first many service providers have limited coverage areas; second, some of the more expensive services include extras that may or may not be valuable to you. It pays to check for more information, that’s why we’ve provided a link to each service provider.

Service provider Data GB Monthly charge $ $ per extra GB
Actrix 1000 250 2
Inspire 1000 265 $10 /10GB
Lightwire 600 159 Note a
Now 350 145 2
Orcon unlimited 134 Note c
Primowireless 500 299 1
Snap 150 110 Note b
Telecom 500 159 0.5
The Cloud unlimited 155
Vibe Communications 20 96 0.8
Vodaphone 250 119 1
Voyager 1000 195
Worldnet 1100 179 2

a) Lightwire has soft caps. If you habitually run over you’ll be asked to move to a higher plan
b) Snap sells more 100GB data blocks for $15.
c) Orcon’s unlimited plan has fair use limits and the company pools available data. Read that as “if you’re a huge user you may run up against the limits of unlimited”.
d) Vodafone fibre costs $30 less with some mobile accounts. Sky TV packages cost extra, prices start at $45 a month.

Network for Learning says 20 schools have begun moving to the company’s managed network. It also demonstrated its portal which will open in earnest at the start of the next school year.

The business was set up by the government to help schools use the UFB and RBI networks being built in New Zealand. It also has the job of encouraging digital learning.

N4L aims to have 700 schools on its network by the end of 2014. Eventually, the network will connect more than 800,000 students, teachers and admin staff.

The idea behind N4L is to give schools security along with a higher level of service quality and support than they have previously seen. N4L also aims to make internet performance more predictable, which makes applications like video conferencing more practical. By offering centralised support, it hopes to shoulder some of the burdens of running school internet leaving teachers to get on with teaching.

N4L’s network will mainly run over the UFB fibre network, but for the 25 percent of the country not covered by the network, it will use the RBI network and the technologies delivering broadband to remote areas.

  • Shorter internet addresses could soon be on the agenda after The Council of InternetNZ approved plans allowing second-level .nz domain names.  In other words, sites like billbennett.co.nz could be simply billbennett.nz. Domain Name Commission Chair David Farrar says: “This change will enable greater choice for people, companies and organisations wanting to get online or expand their online presence. A final policy implementing the proposal is subject to public consultation.
  • NZX stepped into the discussion about Chorus’ financial position after news reports of comments made by the Coalition for Fair Internet Pricing. The exchange denies it commented on Chorus’ compliance with listing rules. NZX says it does not comment on companies. The matter became news after Prime Minister John Key told the media Chorus was in danger of going broke as justification for overruling the Commerce Commission.