UFB phase 2 to reach 85 percent of New Zealanders

The Government has launched the second phase of the UFB programme promising to provide fibre to the premises to a further 151 towns and 43 suburban fringe areas of larger centres.

Following what it said were “intensive commercial negotiations” Crown Fibre Holdings has awarded contracts to the four companies rolling out phase one of the UFB: Northpower, Ultrafast Fibre, Chorus and Enable.

Communications minister, Simon Bridges, said the $300 million project would provide around 423,000 New Zealanders in rural and urban areas with fibre to their homes by 2024. “All towns identified in the request for proposals (RFP) for the UFB extension will receive access to fibre, plus additional areas that weren’t included in the RFP,” he said.

“By the end of 2024, approximately 85 percent of New Zealanders will have access to fibre, far exceeding our original target of 80 percent by 2022. This will put New Zealand among the leaders in the OECD for access to fibre.”

TUANZ welcomed the news but said it would continues to push for better quality connectivity for all New Zealander’s and would not let up on representing users to ensure the remaining 15 percent of residents and businesses got access to fibre-equivalent services in the same timeframe.

CEO Craig Young said: “Rural New Zealand deserves the same quality services as their urban cousins not only for lifestyle reasons, but because a vast amount of New Zealand’s economic innovation and prosperity comes from farms and businesses located within that last 15 percent.”

Internet NZ also issued a statement welcoming the news. It made no comment on better broadband for the remaining 15 percent but said it would be keeping an eye on developments and would continue pushing for better and faster install processes to ensure that UFB2 was completed by the 2024 target.

Chorus said it would roll out to a further 169 areas extending from Taipa–Mangonui in Northland to Bluff in Southland, making fibre available to an additional 200,000-plus homes and businesses beyond the 1.1 million customers in its existing UFB rollout areas.It put the estimated cost at between $370m and $410m.

Northpower said it had secured contracts to build UFB networks in 12 Kaipara and Whangarei towns — Kaiwaka, Mangawhai Village, Mangawhai Heads, Maungaturoto, Paparoa, Ruawai, Dargaville, Waipu, Ruakaka, One Tree Point, Waikaraka and Hikurangi — at a cost of around $30 million.

Company chair Nikki Davies-Colley said the expansion would take fibre to a further 9000 premises – adding to the 20,000 UFB premises in Whangarei.

Ultrafast Fibre’s majority shareholder, WEL Networks, said it an its partners Waipa Networks would invest approximately $60 million to build the UFB in 12 central North Island towns, bringing its total investment in fibre infrastructure to almost $450 million by 2018.

Christchurch fibre network provider, Enable, said it would extend its fibre broadband coverage to reach four additional high-density urban areas on the fringe of Christchurch. “Enable will be extending its network by 482 premises, or around 600 additional potential customers – and will absorb this extra network build into its Year Seven deployment programme,” the company said. “This means these communities will have access to fibre broadband by December 2018 or before.”

The largest new area is Kennedys Bush that accounts for approximately half of this additional coverage.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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