Will nobody stop this constant flood of good news coming from New Zealand telecommunications sector?
Journalists received two positive press releases from Communications Minister Amy Adams yesterday.
The first reports a jump in UFB customers. Connection numbers are up 135 percent in the last year and 22 percent since September 2015.
This means almost one-in-five customers able to connect to the fibre network choose to do so. A year ago the number was about one-in-nine.
That is a big boost. It makes New Zealanders enthusiastic fibre customers by global standards and endorses the government’s UFB project. Customers are voting with their contactless payment systems.
Adams also says the UFB build is at the 60 percent stage. Going by the regional breakdown it looks as if suburban Auckland will be last cab off the rank. Or whatever the equivalent Uber metaphor is.
According to the minister fibre now reaches 96 percent of businesses and 100 percent of schools. I suspect her definition of business doesn’t include home-based companies.
And out in the sticks… In the other release Adams says Vodafone installed 13 new rural wireless towers for the RBI project in the last quarter and upgraded 12 existing towers. The total for the last year is 135 new towers and 336 upgraded towers.
At the same time Chorus has upgraded more than 1,180 rural cabinets under the RBI.
What the minister’s press release doesn’t say is that Vodafone’s RBI service was a dog’s breakfast with a handful of, often far-from-happy, customers when the service used 3G mobile technology.
Switching to 4G changed that and the arrival of a competing product from Spark means Vodafone lifted its game. Now the race is on to put 4G on the remaining towers and regain customer confidence.
New Zealand’s rural broadband is exciting again and, where 4G is available, is first-rate by world standards. I recently tested the same technology on an urban home fixed wireless connection to the Skinny network. The performance is impressive. To a user out in the wop-wops that fibre-like 4G connection could be life-changing.