New Zealand's NBN one-quarter completed

New Zealand's Ultra-Fast Broadband network project has now reached one quarter of its target of covering 75 percent of the population with fibre by 2019, but take-up is slow.

New statistics from the New Zealand government show that the country's Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project has now passed one quarter of the premises it plans to pass with fibre at the end of 2019.

The project, which is co-funded between telcos and an AU$1.35 billion investment from the New Zealand government, is similar to Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), and is aiming to pass 75 percent of New Zealand premises by the end of this decade.

New Zealand Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced earlier this week that the network had passed an additional 40,630 premises in the last three months of 2013, with 363,109 premises now covered by the fibre network.

In comparison, NBN Co in Australia has now passed 382,749 premises by fibre.

Unlike the current NBN deal with Telstra in Australia, Telecom New Zealand's wholesale arm, Chorus, is not required to decommission its copper network and transfer customers over the UFB once a premises has been passed by fibre.

Take-up is considerably poorer on the Ultra-Fast Broadband network, however, with just 19,915 users on the network. NBN Co's fibre network has 105,176 active users as of Sunday, February 9.

Adams said that the slow take-up is in line with what the government had expected.

"This is in line with government expectations and overseas experiences at this stage of deployment, when there is still six more years to complete the UFB build," she said.

The country's rural broadband initiative, which is passing the remaining rural residences in New Zealand with a mixture of wireless, and copper network upgrades — including fibre to the node — now passes 179,000 with the wireless network, and 60,000 with the improved copper services. The government said that users on the fibre-to-the-node service can expect download speeds of up to 20Mbps. This portion of the rollout is expected to be completed at the end of 2016.