New Zealand ICT minister Amy Adams has confirmed that the country’s in-deployment Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative has passed the 76,000 premises mark, 6,000 more than originally projected for its first year. However, to date, just 1,200 customers have subscribed to the service. In a parallel announcement, Chorus, the former wholesale arm of Telecom New Zealand, and arguably the principal contractor participating in the nationwide build-out, has indicated that its portion of the UFB network passed 57,000 premises as of 30 June, claiming 100 customer connections to its infrastructure. Since starting work on the UFB project in September last year, Chorus has had more than 200 work crews focused on network deployment across twelve urban centres and the company has said that it expects to pass 149,000 premises by July 2013.
Meanwhile, Adams expects the overall network to cover around 235,000 premises by the same date, including more than 100,000 rural homes and businesses. The ICT minister has also scoffed at media suggestions that the full potential of the UFB initiative would not be realised in the wake of Pacific Fibre abandoning its plans for a new submarine cable system linking New Zealand to Australia and the United States. She said: ‘Despite recent comments from some quarters, New Zealand has sufficient transit capacity to handle increased network demand from UFB.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, approximately two-thirds of the 33 geographical UFB contracts were awarded to Telecom’s Chorus unit, with the remaining agreements going to Enable (Christchurch), WEL Networks (also known as the ‘Central North Island Fibre Consortium’ and ‘Ultra Fast Fibre’) and Northpower Limited, for the areas of Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Hawera and Tokoroa (WEL) and Whangarei (Northpower). Adams claims that UFB deployment has started in 24 towns and cities and the first UFB connections are available in 17 of these regions.