Richard Riley, Chief Marketing Officer for Ultrafast Fibre, spoke at the NECH AGM about the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband (UFB) to the Flagstaff North area. To give a little bit of background, ‘UFB1’ was the Government initiative to roll out UFB to 75% of New Zealand homes. UFF has completed UFB1 across the Central North Island and with the successful uptake (demand for fast broadband services now extremely high) the Government is expanding the initiative through ‘UFB2’ to other towns, which will increase coverage to 80% of NZ premises. However, some areas of Flagstaff North are not covered by UFB1 and are also unlikely to be covered under UFB2.
Connecting to UFB’s next generation services is a two-stage process involving the reticulation of the network past the premise and then subsequent install of fibre to the premise. The first stage is the communal connection which goes along the street (the Flagstaff North area being a relatively new suburb is typically all underground, so once installed, only cabinets are visible). This is the bit that’s currently being done in Everleigh, Bramber, Killegray, Tuirangi, etc. as part of the areas under a small network infill that Ultrafast is undertaking. The second stage is connecting fibre to the individual premises. This involves scoping the work that needs to be done at each property (from the road to the exterior of the dwelling), confirming the location of all of the new assets that will need to be installed at each property, and then the physical work of channelling the duct underground from the grass verge outside the property boundary to a discreet termination point (or small box) on the outside wall of the house, then through the wall to a similar sized box inside. Richard did clearly state that the install is not as simple as installing a jack point on the wall; and he was very keen to point out that it can be quite a disruptive and technical process. Additionally, with high demand, it can now take several weeks before a crew is available to carry out the required installation work at your place; but at the end of that queue with super-fast broadband download speeds of 100 megabits per second and above available, the wait is well worth it. In any case, great care is taken to minimise disruption and mess to your garden and house by skilled and friendly technicians.
Richard explained that installing UFB is not a cheap undertaking for Ultrafast Fibre – when considering the typical costs to deploy the network along the street and then installing to the inside of the premise, it’s several thousand dollars per premise all up. However, in UFB1, these costs are not charged to the end user customer – a standard installation is currently free for residential customers and only a small nominal connection charge applies for business end users. It should be noted though that, not dissimilar to other utility services such as copper broadband, the retail service provider may charge customers a small fee for a connection (often to cover the costs of routers, modems and the like).
Because the cost of expanding the network to enable connections in this area is not covered by the Government funding for UFB, Richard indicated Ultrafast Fibre will need to have an idea of potential uptake in order to put a convincing business case; so is looking at a way to canvas our level of interest and commitment to connect if Ultrafast Fibre did indeed build. If they did commit to installing fibre to the identified areas, it would likely take 3-6 months for the communal build stage to be completed, with individual connections possible after that following a period to satisfactorily test of the network.
One possible benefit of registering your interest early might be that the connection to the outside of your premise could be done at the same time the network is being built along the street (i.e. the communal infrastructure build stage); which may speed up the process (leaving just the internal technical install for a later date). To enable such a ‘fast track’ process, an order would likely be required via your retail service provider, and Ultrafast Fibre may also use the opportunity to look at more innovative ways to manage such a scenario as it could minimise disruption to your premise and speed up the connection timeframe. Richard stressed that this will not bring orders ‘up the queue’ any faster as Ultrafast Fibre remains committed to connecting other end users who have been patiently waiting.
So within the next few weeks, Richard would like to get an idea of the level of interest from the 700-ish homes in the remaining Flagstaff areas not currently covered (the Borman Road corridor, including Limber Hill, Castleton, Denham, Glyll, etc; and the Woodridge area including Te Huia Drive, Featherstone, Amokura, River Road north of Woodridge Drive, etc). That could be via social media feedback or via a community meeting that Ultrafast Fibre would be happy to organise – possibly doubling as a fun drinks and nibbles evening where we can all ask more questions. When I know more about how to register your interest I will post another update.
NECH would like to thank Richard for taking the time to come and talk at the AGM and for Ultrafast Fibre’s acknowledgement of and interest in addressing the UFB interest in northern Hamilton.