Chorus reduces gigabit fibre wholesale price to 60 bucks

Chorus has announced that it will bring down wholesale pricing on its gigabit-speed fibre broadband service, saying it has now connected 500,000 customers to the network.

Chorus has announced connecting half a million customers to the New Zealand government's Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre network, as well as saying it will "incentivise" the take-up of gigabit-speed plans.

According to Chorus, it has connected 100,000 customers in the last six months alone, in comparison to taking five years to connect the first 100,000 fibre customers.

The 500,000 UFB customers are split between varying speed tiers, with 84,000 on 50Mbps plans; 353,000 on 100Mbps; 19,000 on 200Mbps; and 36,000 customers on 1Gbps.

There are also 6,000 customers on education and business plans of 100Mbps+.

"As more New Zealanders connect to fibre, consumers are also moving away from entry-level plans towards higher specification plans to ensure they get the very best experience," Chorus said.

The provider will therefore be bringing down its wholesale pricing for residential gigabit services from NZ$65 to NZ$60 by mid-2019, and then down to NZ$56 in mid-2020.

Chorus had in January 2017 announced a deal with government-owned company Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) to extend the UFB fibre network to 169 new areas and 203,000 premises across the country.

Last month, Chorus also said it would be upgrading New Zealand's copper broadband using VSDL2 vectoring technology to enable speeds of up to 130Mbps in partnership with Nokia.

VDSL2 technology, which removes interference between multiple copper cable lines, is being used in Chorus' network outside of the government's UFB and Chorus' own fibre footprint.

"Nokia's VDSL vectoring is a vital technology to ensure that those yet to connect to Chorus' ultra-fast fibre network can experience the best broadband experience," Chorus head of Network Technology Martin Sharrock said.

"Vectoring has improved average VDSL downstream speeds by over 40 percent and upstream speeds by over 30 percent. This is especially important for rural New Zealand, where fibre to the home has not yet been planned."

Nokia and Chorus earlier this year also announced a trial of the networking company's new optical wavelength services solution to provide a more open access network infrastructure.

Nokia had last year extended its managed services agreement with Chorus for a further three years, with the agreement covering Chorus' legacy networks as well as the telco's rollout of both stages of the UFB.

Nokia two years ago additionally extended its contract with Chorus to update its broadband infrastructure across New Zealand by incorporating fibre-based Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology and VDSL2.

In June, meanwhile, Vocus and Vodafone NZ formed a joint venture to work on unbundling the UFB in a bid to take customers away from Chorus and local fibre companies (LFCs).

Unbundling UFB services will enable third-party provider access to the network, which the companies said would bring more competition as well as more tailored broadband products such as 10Gbps services and low-latency services for gamers.

"The joint venture will involve scoping, designing, and investing in unbundling the fibre local loops of the four LFCs, with a view to providing wholesale fibre products to the retail market in competition with LFCs," Vocus and Vodafone said.

The New Zealand Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee had recommended the unbundling of fibre services by 2020 [PDF], with Vodafone and Vocus saying they will begin offering consumer and business-grade services in January 2020.

New Zealand's UFB is providing fibre to the premises to around 87 percent of the population by 2022, with the remainder of the population being provided with coverage under the government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Under these initiatives, 99 percent of the population will have access to 50Mbps peak speeds, while the remaining 1 percent will have speeds of at least 10Mbps.

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