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Gigabit plans offer even more speed

The ultra-fast broadband (UFB) roll-out has been slow going. But if your household has had fibre installed, you can now take advantage of the increased speed it offers through a gigabit data plan.

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Two of the smaller ISPs, Bigpipe and Full Flavour, already offer gigabit plans, though they’re only available in limited areas. Dunedin residents can already take advantage of their “Gigatown” status to get super-fast internet.

For the rest of us, a gigabit plan recently released by Orcon in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch and an announcement from Spark of its soon-to-be-available gigabit plans means high-speed internet has finally reached the masses.

A gigabit plan is five times quicker than the current fastest fibre plans (200Mbps) and 14 times faster than the fastest VDSL plan available from Spark. A gigabit plan promises speeds of 1000Mbps (1Gbps) — well, almost. As with all stated internet speeds, realistically you should expect less. Orcon says a download speed between 700 and 900Mbps is realistic.

But do you really need a plan this fast? Streaming Netflix at 4K quality in three rooms should use less than 90Mbps, well within the capabilities of a non-gigabit fibre plan. You’d need to be a power-streaming household with eight devices actively streaming content such as movies, TV shows or games, to really make a gigabit plan worth considering.

However, this extra speed comes at a cost. Bigpipe gigabit plans cost $129 a month, while Full Flavour offers the cheapest plan at $110 a month. And they’re both open term contracts. Orcon charges $135 a month for naked and $140 a month with a VoIP phone line. The Spark plan will cost $140 a month. In comparison, a 12-month unlimited fibre plan from Orcon with download speeds of 200Mbps costs an average of $125. That’s an extra $10-$15 a month for speed you probably don’t need.

On the positive side, most gigabit plans have unlimited data allowances and the Orcon plan comes with an Xbox One S in return for you signing on for 24 months (if you leave early, you pay $500, the equivalent Xbox cost).

Unless you really need the extra speed now, we think you should hold off on locking yourself into any long-term gigabit plan contracts. As more ISPs offer these plans and they become available in more areas, you can expect to see lower prices and more flexible contracts.

Our writer travelled to Auckland for the announcement of Orcon’s new plan courtesy of Orcon.

by Erin Bennett

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