As the New Zealand government begins the latest phase of its Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) high speed rollout programme, it now appears that up to 90% of the population could be in line to be covered by the new networks. In September 2014 Prime Minister John Key revealed that its coverage target had been upped from 75% to 80%, but a report from local website Stuff quotes an unnamed industry source as saying that this is likely to be a conservative figure and that 90% is more realistic. This would mean that all communities of 300 inhabitants or over would be connected to the fibre networks as part of the NZD210 million (USD175 million) project. The remaining areas are being covered by upgraded wireless broadband systems.
The government has just opened a tender to find a contractor to deploy fibre infrastructure in another 110 towns. The UFB networks recently passed the halfway stage of their planned rollout, with around 750,000 homes now reached by the high speed fibre connections. A further 269,000 premises in rural areas are covered by upgraded fixed and wireless infrastructure under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) rollout, which is being spearheaded by Vodafone New Zealand and Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand).