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Whangarei: New Zealand’s first fibre city

Whangarei: New Zealand’s first fibre city

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 be 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 per cent 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 per cent. That’s a modest figure, but ahead of the roughly five per cent 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.