Ultra-fast broadband

What’s standing between you and high-speed internet?

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Ultra-fast broadband (UFB) is the way of the future. It uses fibre (optical cable) that offers higher speeds and has the capacity to send more data through simultaneously than ADSL broadband.

Why you need it

If you don’t think you want fibre in your home right now, you probably will soon. The amount of information being shared on the internet is growing at a huge rate. Remember the difference between old dial-up internet and ADSL broadband; no one would ever go back to dial-up.

It’s not just browsing websites, but uploading photos to online storage, communicating over video and streaming music, TV shows and movies. UFB’s allowance for simultaneous signals means no slowdown when lots of people in your neighbourhood use the internet at the same time.

The UFB roll-out is happening in stages. The first stage covers 33 towns and cities though some urban areas won’t have fibre until 2019. By the end of the second stage, 80 percent of New Zealanders will have fibre installed in their street and available to be installed in their home. For a guide to when your area will get fibre, see broadbandmap.nz. Rural areas are covered by the Rural Broadband Initiative and so may wait longer for coverage.

While getting fibre installed into your home can be a long process, the results are worth it.

But before you sign up, you’ll need to decide what speed, data cap and price you want, then you need to figure out the installation. The last part takes the longest, especially if you live in a rental property, on a shared driveway, or in an apartment, but you’ll be guided through the process by the installer.

Speeds

While ADSL is a flat rate speed and you only choose your data cap, UFB is all about speed. The first thing you choose when signing up is the speed you want.

Upload and download speeds are measured in “bits per second”, usually “megabits per second” (Mb/s or Mbps).

Plans list speeds as X/Y Mbps, where X is download speed and Y is upload speed. For example, some UFB plans are advertised as 100/20. Download speeds are important for internet tasks such as surfing websites or watching video streaming services. Upload speeds are how quickly you can send stuff, such as attaching files to an email, uploading video to YouTube, or sending photos to a cloud service. So the bigger the files you want to send, the faster the upload speed you’ll want.

Fibre plans start with download speeds of 30Mbps and can go up to 200Mbps, with 100Mbps being the most common. Upload speeds don’t have as much variation, with most offering from 10Mbps to 20Mbps, though there are plans with 50Mbps and some “synchronous” 100/100 plans available.

The step up from ADSL to fibre is astounding; for most consumers ADSL’s download speed reaches 10-15Mbps at the best of times and usually sits closer to 5Mbps.

If you think about download speeds as the time taken to transfer a file, the difference is clear. For example, downloading a 5GB file goes from roughly an hour on ADSL to 22 minutes on a 30Mbps plan, and on a 100Mbps plan it’s only 6 minutes! See comparing download speeds.

After a competition run by Chorus, some parts of Dunedin can get Gigabit (Gbps) plans, which are the fastest speeds currently available at 1000/500 Mbps. Ultrafast Fibre, which is building the network in Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Cambridge, New Plymouth, Tokoroa, Hawera, Whanganui and Tauranga, also has Gigabit plans on offer. Downloading a 5GB file on a Gigabit plan takes 40 seconds.

Prices and data caps

Surprisingly, given the difference in speeds, prices are almost the same for ADSL and fibre plans. For example, Spark's naked ADSL plan with unlimited data costs $90 per month, which is the same as its naked 30/10 Mbps UFB unlimited data plan. A 100/20 Mbps plan is only $10 per month more (see our table for price comparisons). Note that currently all UFB plans have the same pricing structure. However, some ISPs offer extras such as subscriptions to streaming services.

Data caps for UFB plans generally come in two sizes: 80GB and unlimited. (Some ISPs offer a 40GB plan if bundled with a phone line.) While the 80GB cap is cheaper, we recommend going unlimited. On UFB, you will consume more data than you might normally, simply because you can. For example, if you watch streaming services it’s easy to go through 200GB a month.

Slow downs

While you might be able to get super-fast internet into your home, there are a few factors that can slow it down. The main one is your wireless router.

Depending on how old your router is and what bands it broadcasts on, your speeds will vary. Think of it like a high-pressure hose being connected to a nozzle that can only let out a trickle.

The two main bands routers use are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 5GHz band can transfer more data and is considered a more stable signal.

Routers use different standards of WiFi represented by letters: b, g, n and ac. The newest one, and the one you want, is “ac” as it allows for the fastest speeds over your home network. The other standards won’t give you speeds that maximise your fibre connection.

To ensure you get the fastest speeds, your WiFi-enabled devices also need to use the ac standard. Older devices may not be compatible and while the internet connection will work, it won’t be as fast as newer devices.

Installation

Once you’ve chosen your ISP and plan, then you need to get fibre installed to your home. The process differs depending on where you live.

For most people, getting fibre from the street to your door is simple and only involves you. However, the installation can be frustrating if you’re not prepared. Each part of the process can have delays and relies on other people (see our consent process graphic).

For the most part you’ll be dealing with an installer from a company, such as Chorus. These companies install fibre all over the country and deal with the physical parts of the UFB network. Each region has different installation companies, also called “wholesale providers” or “Local Fibre Companies” (LFC); it’s similar to electricity, with lines providers being separate from power providers.

Your ISP deals with the non-physical parts of your UFB connection. They are called “retail service providers” (RSP). You can find out who is selling fibre in your area by checking crownfibre.govt.nz.

Step 1: Choosing an ISP

After you’ve checked the broadband map to see if UFB is available in your area, look at all the ISPs in your area and decide on which package – speed and data cap – you’d like.

After choosing an ISP, contact them like you would any other service. The ISP will contact the LFC which will be doing the installation. The ISP is always your first point of contact for any matters including technical support, but during the installation the LFC will be talking to you directly.

Step 2: Consent

As mentioned, most owner-occupiers in self-contained homes won’t need consent. If you live in a right of way, apartment building or your business shares premises you will need to get consent from your neighbours, landlord or body corporate before fibre can be installed. This is a requirement of current property law.

Consent has to be obtained from everyone in the shared situation – for example, everyone on a shared driveway or everyone in your apartment building. If you’re renting, you need the consent of your landlord.

This is done via mail, so can take some time. To speed up the process, we recommend you talk to all involved parties first. Consent is required so the fibre installer can put the fibre in, and also has future access for maintenance, repairs or to connect other users.

Remember, the installation process can’t start until all consent documents are in.

Step 3: Pre-installation

After all required consents are obtained, the installer will make an appointment with you to discuss how they’ll install the fibre into your home. In most cases, fibre will be delivered to your house in the same way as your current internet - for example, via an underground pipe or aerial cable.

If you’re in a shared situation, the LFC will make the fibre available to everyone, but it will only be installed in your home. To use the hose analogy again; everyone potentially has access to the new water pipe, but you’re the only one getting a tap put in.

When the LFC comes for the first meeting, you’ll discuss and decide where the optical network terminator (ONT) will be in your home and where the external termination point (ETP) will be outside your home. The ONT and ETP are the boxes the fibre goes into from the road.

The position of the ONT is important. Most people place them in behind their TV as this is the point with the most data traffic. It also has flashing lights, so keep it out of your bedroom.

Once everything for installation is agreed, you sign off the plan with the installer. Thoroughly read the plan and the installation contract. The installer will repair any damage it does but has limits on liability coverage.

Any extra costs?
For most residential properties, there won’t be any charges to install fibre but in some situations there can be some costs to look out for:

  • Requesting another install option from the road to the property. For example, if you remove an existing aerial cable and replace it with an underground cable.
  • Electrical work to add additional power plugs that might be required for the installation. For example, if you want your ONT placed behind the TV and don’t have a socket there.
  • Moving the ONT after it’s been installed, if you change your mind.
  • Getting additional hard wiring done inside the home to get “fibre sockets” in your home (that are connected to the ONT). For example, gamers might want their own fibre socket.

Step 4: Connection

The next step is getting the fibre from the road to your home. This part you don’t need to be home for. The installer follows the plan you agreed to and connects the fibre to your home’s ETP.

Then, at a separate time, a technician comes to your property and completes the internal wiring and installation of the ONT. You’ll have to be there for this part and it can take a long time; potentially up to four hours.

Managing time

With high demand from all over New Zealand and the consents that have to be obtained, getting UFB can be a time-consuming process. Be mindful of this when you contact an ISP to get UFB.

If you need consents, we recommend you talk to your neighbours first and let them know they’ll be getting consent forms and what it all means. Remember if you, or your neighbours, have a landlord who is overseas it’s good to contact them and get their consent to get the process started.

Broadband Compare

Get naked!

Get naked!

Get naked!

Naked broadband means a broadband line not bundled with a home phone. This is available on all broadband types (ADSL, VDSL and fibre) and is always cheaper. It’s an alluring option for those with mobile phone plans that offer enough free minutes and texts to not need a home phone.

Extra services

Extra services

Extra services

If you you want to move to fibre but have services such as medical alert lines or security systems using an old phone copper line, check what options your ISP has. Be aware, there may not always be a solution and you may have to consider fixes that are more expensive and/or take more time to install.

Ultra-Fast Broadband Calculator

Please select a technology and the amounts of media that you would like to download.

Comparing download speeds

1 HD movie (5GB)

1GBPS UFB: 40 seconds
200MBPS UFB: 3 minutes
100MBPS UFB: 6 minutes
30MBPS UFB: 22 minutes
VDSL: 33 minutes
ADSL: 1 hour

100 songs (5MB each)

1GBPS UFB: 2 seconds
200MBPS UFB: 12 seconds
100MBPS UFB: 24 seconds
30MBPS UFB: 1 minutes
VDSL: 2 minutes
ADSL: 4 minutes

Digital Living

Digital Living

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Digital Living

Want your home to be a digital wonderland but not sure where to start? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a technical genius. Our guide will take you through all the steps you need to get your devices connected and working.

Start reading.

Member comments

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N & M B.
10 Sep 2016
What’s standing between you and high-speed internet?

It really annoys me to read headings like this, when the answer is Chorus and its interminable rollout times. Our current date for availability is December 2019 (been pushed back yet again, so don't expect to see it this decade) This is in urban Auckland. Doubly infuriating as it's been installed literally around the corner from where we live. Nor is VDSL available. We are usually connecting at about 8Mb with a max of 10Mb (best we can hope for according to Vodafone)

Kate C.
04 Mar 2016
Terrible experience with Vodafone switching to Ultra Fast Broadband

We have just been switched to Ultra Fast broadband, a few helpful things they could have told us before the guy arrived like have an extra power point handy, were not mentioned. I've now tried to call for 3 days straight, been put on hold for half an hour each time then some overseas connection it seems which is full of static connects, the person says they can't hear me and hangs up! I've never experienced such bad service and have no idea how I'm going to get hold of them. Even if I want to cancel there is nothing I can do. Do not recommend Vodafone for service!!!

Susannah T.
29 Feb 2016
ISPs and speeds

So I am supposed to be on a 100/20 UFF plan yet lately I am getting download speeds of between 7 and 22. I've contacted the ISP about it and expect something will be sorted by Christmas perhaps. By then I'll have changed to Inspire. Getting to the point, I have a TP-Link AC1900 wireless dual band gigabit router. If that's not the cause of the slow speeds I am getting then what else could be and what difference, if any, does the ISP make to the speeds one receives? The ISPs partly sell themselves on the speeds they can offer but are they really just the go-between between the customer and the infrastructure provider(s) and service/performance simply comes down to how well they handle communication with the customer and the infrastructure provider?

Scott C.
07 Feb 2016
Was on the UFB Fibre map, now not

Was suppose to be getting fibre here mid 2016. Now not showing on map. Appears to be one of those dream things or they just push it out into the future again.

Jeavons B.
30 Jan 2016
Power failures and UFB

I didn't see any reference to this possible problem. Unlike many countries NZ UFB providers do not need to provide electricity for their service thanks to our lax government. UHF requires electricity to power the indoor box. For those for whom the phone is essential an IPS is essential if you run the phone as an adjunct to fibre.

Previous member
01 Feb 2016
Re: Power failures and UFB

Hi Jeavons, Thanks for your comment. It’s true that UFB doesn’t work in a power cut. To keep it working, you can use a back-up (UPS) battery. Alternatively you can pay to keep a copper line in your house for a phone line or use a cell phone. Kind regards, Hadyn Consumer NZ staff

R J C.
25 Apr 2016
Keeping the Copper Line

So with the lack of any communication regarding a UFB outage from our ISP - Spark we have decided to keep our Landline. This is an additional $54 per month.

Paul W
01 Aug 2016
power backup for ONT

Here is a link to a backup system that plus directly into the ONT http://www.cablemax.co.nz/NewProducts/tabid/99/List/1/ProductID/6167/Default.aspx?SortField=UnitCost%2cProductName

Marion P.
24 Dec 2015
Update to previous comment on telecom providers incorrect UFB records

I forgot to add UFB was installed quite some time ago so there has been plenty of time for the telecom providers to have updated their information. After an email and 3 phone calls to Slingshot they have acknowledged there is UFB. According to the person I spoke to they can’t just upload the accurate Chorus data as they have to reformat it to match their maps.

Marion P.
24 Dec 2015
Telecom providers not providing accurate information of UFB availability

Due to the never ending drop outs I am getting for broadband I have been investigating a move to UFB. I know it has been connected to the property as I was here when the Chorus technicians came and I can see the connection box outside plus I have a letter telling me they have finished the whole area. I am finding the individual phone provider’s records are out-of-date and they insist there is no UFB here. Unfortunately, they seem to have decided once you have typed your address into their search box and received an incorrect answer you aren’t allowed to progress any further and they won’t even permit you to look at the prices. I am trying to avoid typing my address in on their websites but for some such as 2Degrees and Slingshot you can’t get around it. If you want to know if UFB is set up for your address I would only look at the installer’s website for your area, such as Chorus, to check availability as the telecom providers can’t be relied on.

Robert C.
25 Nov 2015
What about RBI

Why doesn't RBI Broadband mentioned or even compared as fast internet? Especially the 4g network which can be faster than VDSL and in some cases quicker than some fibre-optic connections. I would like to see Consumer look into RBI and help people with technology and about other alternative broadband options. Rob Christiaans Palmerston North

Previous member
26 Nov 2015
re: What about RBI

Hi Robert, You're in luck – we're planning a similar report on RBI. Please keep an eye out for it in the next couple of months. Kind regards, Emily Consumer NZ staff

Rodney S.
21 Nov 2015
What happens in a prolonged power cut ?

One aspect that wasn't mentioned in the report in November's magazine was what happens if there is a power cut. As the telephone connection is through broadband and dependent on a power supply, how can calls be made when the power is out? On RNZ Nine to Noon programme some months ago it was suggested that to keep a continuous telephone service, a back-up battery is needed. Will Consumer cover this aspect in a follow-up report please?

Previous member
23 Nov 2015
re: What happens in a prolonged power cut ?

Hi Rodney, Thanks for your comment. It’s true that UFB doesn’t work in a power cut. To keep it working, you can use a back-up (UPS) battery. Alternatively you can pay to keep a copper line in your house for a phone line or use a cell phone. Kind regards, Hadyn Consumer NZ staff

Paul S.
19 Nov 2015
Re: conflict of interest and TrueNet comments

Hi John, This article is about ultra-fast broadband (fibre) rollout, expanding and updating an article we wrote in 2013, when little practical information was available. The intention is to explain to consumers more about fibre rollout and the process for obtaining it. Inevitably, that includes talking about why you’d choose fibre and speed of service, but that isn’t the main thrust. We are not trying to compare fibre with ADSL or VDSL. As your data shows they all vary considerably, based on a multitude of factors. We need to avoid making statements like ‘VDSL gets up to 60Mbps’. That might be true for 3-4% of users, but the distribution of speeds in your data shows the peak to be 20-30 Mbps with a second, smaller peak at 12-16Mbps. For fibre the data shows a clear peak at 25-30Mbps and another at 90-110Mbps (reflecting the plans available, I assume). The data for ADSL shows a range from 2-14 Mbps for all but 10-12% of users. This is the level of data useful for this article, we can’t reasonably get into the details of service speed on a more granular level. Given the article is about the fibre rollout, the speed data shows it can be (and is) much faster. Referring to your previous comment, the percentage of homes it reaches right now is not relevant – it’s an ongoing rollout. The article was written by Consumer NZ staff and, rather than being opinion-based, is drawn from a number of sources. It went through our usual internal verification process. Crown Fibre Holdings paid to extend the audience from our members to all consumers – hence the report is freely available to all on our website. We will maintain this as an ongoing article, updating it as required, as more consumers have experience with fibre install. Perhaps we can also look at an article comparing speed of services and ISPs? Regards, Paul Smith Head of Testing, Consumer NZ

John B.
18 Nov 2015
Conflict of Interest

Hayden, you say below that "The numbers mentioned in this report were verified by Crown Fibre Holdings, who manage the UFB roll out. " The numbers mentioned are the speeds of ADSL, i.e. copper service speeds. CFH are responsible for Fibre rollout and are hence competitors to copper services. In particular VDSL copper service which has very similar performance characteristics, and so is very competitive with Fibre, yet you do not mention VDSL. Has this article been sponsored by CFH? Why did you ask the competitor for performance measurements, rather than the independent measurement service like TrueNet that you know well?

Trevor S.
14 Nov 2015
Other costs and waiting time

As some comments have already noted, there are several issues/fish hooks not included in the article. Monitored burglar and fire alarm systems need modifying at a cost. Monitored medical alarm systems need to be considered too. Very little mention of vdsl which we have at the moment but are going to change to fibre as it has variable speed depending on loading. Our vdsl ran at about 42 mps download initially but slows after school

Paul S.
19 Nov 2015
re: Other costs and waiting time

Hi Trevor, Thanks for your comments. We agree that alarm systems and anything that relies on a copper wire connection are a consideration if you are getting rid of that connection – we draw attention to that in a panel at the end of the article. We haven't tried to compare fibre to VDSL or ADSL, except to indicate the potential speed difference, as the focus of this article is about the process for getting fibre installed. As we get more feedback from consumers we will update the article and highlight any more pitfalls and considerations when considering a switch to fibre. Regards, Paul Smith Head of Testing, Consumer NZ

Dorothy M.
14 Nov 2015
Spark: A business, or a communications company?

A bit like the first comment to this story (but not as bad), we got our confirmation email "Key Dates: Connection Friday 30 October" mid October. Received the modem a few days after the email. But we've heard nothing since. I hope we don't have a five month wait!

John P.
14 Nov 2015
Spark and the Phone

I've joined Spark's Fibre30 plan. About three months after having the cable installed and being connected, Spark sent a flyer offering a deal to have the phone on Fibre as well. At the time it was still using the copper line. I ignored the flyer. About one month later I was phoned by Spark. I was told that if I did not get rid of the copper line, I would be charged an extra $50 per month from November. This is pure blackmail. I had no choice but to change. I don't mind the change, but I do mind Spark's methods. Prior to the change to fibre, I was advised that my house alarm would be incompatible with Spark. My security firm use Vodafone. That's cost me an extra $10 per month. That amount was offset by a $10 lower monthly for Fibre30, however the king hit was the $565 bill from my security company to upgrade their system to be compatible with Spark. Upgrades do not come cheap, despite the silver tongued rhetoric of service providers.

P J V.
06 Dec 2015
Hear Hear

I have had exactly the same experience. Spark should have signalled their intent at the time of installing UFB. It is blackmail at short notice.

Maxine C.
14 Nov 2015
fish hooks

I'd like to see some information on the effect on services such as monitored home security systems.

Paul S.
19 Nov 2015
re: fish hooks

Hi Maxine, Thanks for your comment. We agree that alarm systems and anything that relies on a copper wire connection are a consideration if you are getting rid of that connection – we draw attention to that in a panel at the end of the article. At the moment it is just a note to flag it as a possible issue. As we get more feedback from consumers we will update the article. Regards, Paul Smith Head of Testing, Consumer NZ

John B.
11 Nov 2015
TrueNet comments

Hayden, this report could benefit from contacting others in the industry, especially Consumer research companies, such as TrueNet, who measure UFB connection performance. TrueNet offered to assist in the past and would have provided more information on comparative performance of ISP's on UFB, let alone the important missing discussion about VDSL. Such information is publicly available on https://truenet.nz/about-broadband though, updated today. VDSL is available to about 80% of NZ homes, Fibre is not yet available to 40% of homes. You fail to mention VDSL, which has speeds and performance almost comparable with Fibre speeds and is available to 80% of homes. The reference above shows actual evening ADSL speeds range from 2 to 20Mb/s with most between 6 and 10Mb/s, not "for most consumers ADSL’s download speed reaches 10-15Mbps at the best of times and usually sits closer to 5Mbps." The same chart shows VDSL ranges from 4-60Mb/s, with most between 20 and 30Mb/s. On Wifi, your article discusses 5GHz options via the ac standard. "Routers use different standards of WiFi represented by letters: b, g, n and ac. The newest one, and the one you want, is “ac” as it allows for the fastest speeds over your home network. The other standards won’t give you speeds that maximise your fibre connection." This is not enough information, ac does provide faster speeds, but ONLY VERY CLOSE to the router, at greater distances and through walls it can be a lot slower, so performance depends very much on location of the two ends. TrueNet has offered support to Consumer in the past and extend a welcome to work with us to report accurately on Internet connection issues. Opinion based on limited research is not what I believe Consumer is about.

Previous member
11 Nov 2015
re: TrueNet comments

Hi John, Thanks for your comment. The numbers mentioned in this report were verified by Crown Fibre Holdings, who manage the UFB roll out. Our research is not opinion-based. Regards, Hadyn Consumer NZ staff

Dellae M.
11 Nov 2015
True

You raise very valid points which the consumer rep dismisses out of hand. It is sad to see Consumer going the way of the tabloids with poorly researched articles.

John B.
13 Nov 2015
Hayden

So you had an opinion on ADSL speed, went to CFH who do not supply ADSL or have any other involvement in ADSL delivery and had your opinion on ADSL speed verified??? CFH are the government contractor for Fibre rollout, which is performed by LFC's on their behalf - e.g. Chorus. We also measure fibre speeds from over 100 homes, reporting those speeds to the public on our website, something CFH do not do. TrueNet have over 200 million tests based on tests taken from over 400 locations every hour of every day for 4 years, yet you did not seek stats from us.

Michael S.
15 Nov 2015
ADSL2+

Consumer also failed to mention the fact that it is ADSL2+ that is supplied. This could be confusing for people who read information from North America which uses ADSL, theoretical max 6Mb/s, which is much slower than ADSL2+ (theoretical max of 24Mb/s). We get 14 -17Mb/s here in Napier.

Irene d.
10 Nov 2015
FIVE MONTH wait for Fibre with Bigpipe, and still no sign of when it will be installed.

We ordered fibre on the 15th of June, after Bigpipe told us it was available, we're still waiting for an install date. The mistakes and miscommunication from Bigpipe and Chrous have been like a comedy of errors, just not funny. We'd have switched away from Bigpipe, but we can't do that without being sent to the back of the fibre install queue! As soon as we get fibre I'm switching to a better ISP!

Martin M.
14 Nov 2015
Be prepared for a long wait

Like others have said, the installation process is long and frustrating! Waited from May til finally installed last week of October. Took several days off work to be home when they said only to have noone come and date delayed for another month or so. Finally got it all sorted, turns out it was mostly Chorus being overloaded with orders and not enough staff, not the ISP's fault (except not communicating delays very well)