Chorus, Commerce Commission update NZ broadband progress

Chorus releases a progress report on its fibre rollout while the industry regulator says consumers are getting more for their money.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

With Whangarei leading the pack this month in being the first city in New Zealand to complete its partly government-funded Ultrafast Broadband rollout, consumers in other regions will be wondering where they stand.

Network operator Chorus has now reported on the progress of rollouts in its fibre areas, which include most of the rest of the country - and the results are, well, varied.

In a presentation to be given to institutional investors today, Chorus reports the most advanced rollout in its area (see slide 28, pdf) as of 30 April is in Blenheim, at 92% complete, followed by Timaru, 87%. and nearby Oamaru at 86%.

At the other end of the pack, Greymouth, on the West Coast of the South Island, has yet to see any fibre rollout while Feilding has fibre to 8% of premises.

The main centres of Auckland and Wellington, which account for more than 60% of the entire rollout, are at 20% and 25% completion respectively. 

Industry regulator the Commerce Commission, meanwhile, has released its annual telecommunications monitoring report showing consumers are getting more for their money.

“A trend which has become more obvious this year is that telecommunications services are delivering more to consumers for less cost. Spending on telecommunications services is about the same in real terms as it was 10 years ago, but consumers are getting far more – data, texts and calling minutes – for their money, particularly in the mobile market,” said telecommunications commissioner Dr Stephen Gale.

Key findings of the report included an increase in investment from a recent low of NZ$1.24 billion in 2010/11 to NZ$1.58 billion in 2012/13, driven by the ultra-fast broadband fibre network roll-out.

Fixed broadband connections continued to grow, up from 1.24 million to 1.32 million in the year to 30 June 2013. About 85% of households have broadband, up from 65% three years earlier, the Commerce Commission said.

Total retail telecommunications revenues fell in 2012/13, down to NZ$5.21 billion from NZ$5.25 billion the year before.

Chorus has been engaged in a long-running brawl with the regulator which has mandated large cuts to the wholesale price the company can charge for its copper-based broadband products, still the major source of its revenue until the transition to fibre is advanced.

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