Chorus delivers tiered internet access products

Beset by regulation, New Zealand network operator Chorus is creating a new range of unregulated fast fibre and copper offerings.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

New Zealand network operator Chorus has responded to regulated price cuts across its copper-based broadband products by creating a new range of fibre and VDSL copper wholesale products.

Regulator the Commerce Commission imposed drastic price cuts on Chorus's copper products last year which, if left unchanged by a review now under way, are due to come into effect in December.

The new plans, dubbed Chorus Accelerate, appear to be aimed at accelerating adoption of fibre and unregulated VDSL copper broadband where it is available. At entry level, they are roughly triple the speed of current plans.

Chorus said the products deliver greater speeds, enhanced HD video capability, more choices for the telecommunications industry and a "clear path to fibre".

They will be available alongside the standard regulated products, the company said, allowing the industry to choose the products that best meet their needs.

“Chorus Accelerate is an integrated portfolio of products," said Mark Ratcliffe, Chorus CEO. "Each product provides a logical step towards the fibre future, as well as ensuring that New Zealanders enjoy the best possible broadband today.

"Chorus Accelerate also makes it much easier and better value for more end users to make the switch to Chorus UFB fibre as soon as it is available in their area.”

Chorus has bought Alcatel-Lucent's 7950 Extensible Routing System (XRS) to handle the high growth in bandwidth demand in our network and the additional capacity required to support the Chorus Accelerate range. 

The XRS switch can handle up to 16 terabits of data per second, allowing Chorus to provide service commitments for the new plans.

There are three Chorus Accelerate fibre products:

The entry level Fibre 100 plan will be priced wholesale at NZ$40 per 100-down/20-up connection.

that will be complemented by Fibre 200 – a range of 200Mbps fibre products – and Fibre Business, which includes a 1Gbps product.

“Fibre is the long term solution for broadband in New Zealand, and our new products clearly set it apart from the copper-based products in terms of speed and value," Ratcliffe said. "Starting with a wholesale price of $40 for Fibre 100 is a conscious decision to make it the most attractive option for both the industry and end users as soon as fibre is available in our UFB areas.”

Some areas, such as Christchurch and the far North of New Zealand are outside of Chorus's UFB area. There fibre is being delivered by local fibre companies (LFCs) contracted to the government through Crown Fibre Holdings.

Chorus is also offering two new copper products, Boost HD and Boost VDSL.

Boost HD includes a service commitment that there will be enough bandwidth to allow for an HD video stream at all times. Retailers will also need to provide adequate throughput to back up that guarantee.

Boost VDSL is a VDSL-based product that includes a “fibre ready” installation that will get the wiring within a property ready for fibre once it is available.

Telecommunications Users Association boss Paul Brislen said the plans could be the nudge people need to switch to fibre. and answers demands from retailer for more tempting fibre and copper offerings.

100 mbps down and 20 up is a significant different from the around 30 down and 10 up that Chorus is offering currently, he said.

However, Brislen said there was still a question mark over what happens to the regulated products.

"It gives people a reason to move to fibre," he said

Around 90% of the Chorus broadband capable lines will be Boost HD capable, and around 60% will be Boost VDSL capable.

Boost HD will be priced wholesale at of NZ$44.98 until 1 December, the same as a standard broadband connection today. Boost VDSL will be priced at the wholesale rate of $49.98.

Chorus said it will review both prices upon completion of the Commerce Commission’s Final Pricing Principle reviews of its wholesale pricing, scheduled to be done by 1 December 2014. 

Chorus said it also remains committed to delivering its regulated broadband products and reiterated its commitment that it would not throttle the these "to an unusable level" to artificially create demand for non-regulated products.

The company is set to launch the new fibre products on 1 July 2014 and the new copper products on 1 September 2014, subject to demand.

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