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New Zealand’s Christchurch to have early connection to ultra-fast broadband

The early completion of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network in Christchurch now grants all residents in the city and the surrounding areas access to world-leading telecommunications infrastructure, according to a press release by the New Zealand Government. 

Approximately 200 000 end users in New Zealand’s second-largest city now have direct access to fibre connection and can enjoy connection speeds of “nearly 1000 megabits per second”, fast enough, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), to “stream ultra-high definition movies to 40 different devices simultaneously”.

Overseen by Crown Infrastructure Partners, a corporate entity established to manage the Government’s $1.5 billion investment in Ultra-Fast Broadband infrastructure, the completion of the UFB network in Christchurch is part of a larger nationwide initiative to replace ageing telecommunications infrastructure and boost New Zealand’s international competitiveness in terms of new technologies.

“Having ultra-fast broadband in classrooms, businesses or at home, greatly improves access to educational and entertainment content, improves productivity and encourages innovation in the tech sector,” said Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran. “Christchurch is the first of the country’s three major centres to have the ultra-fast broadband infrastructure completely built.”

According to a business report published by ChristchurchNZ, Christchurch now possesses “a low unemployment rate, high levels of economic activity and solid employment opportunities”, and is ranked by the World Bank in 2017 as the “easiest place in the world for starting a business, getting credit and registering property”. City-wide access to UFB will not only greatly improve communications efficiency, but also complement Christchurch’s post-quake economic boom. Businesses are expected to benefit from more cost-effective communication with various stakeholders, more efficient remote working options and better access to cloud services.

The benefits of connecting to the UFB network extend well beyond commercial advantages. A 2012 White Paper released by Alcatel Lucent, “Building the Benefits of Broadband” , indicated that New Zealand can expect cost savings of up to 33 billion NZD due to increased efficiency in healthcare, education, business and agricultural processes; high-speed broadband application in healthcare is also expected to “lead to improved health management, increased life expectancy, and improved access to many health services”

At the time of the press release, only 35.6% of businesses and households in Christchurch were connected to the UFB network. As stressed by Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran, “more people need to make the most of this world-class broadband internet which is now on their doorstep”.

The completion of the UFB network in Christchurch marks a significant milestone in New Zealand’s nationwide push to roll out world-class telecommunications infrastructure. Spearheaded by the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) Programme, the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF), the nationwide implementation of fibre-to-premises broadband focuses on priority broadband users such as schools, health services and businesses.

The nationwide push to roll out fibre-to-premises broadband aims to achieve an uptake of 87% by 2022. This target was increased from an earlier goal declared in 2017 of achieving 85% uptake by 2024On 30th August 2017, a 270 million NZD communications infrastructure package was added to an existing allocation of 150 million to “extend and speed up the UFB build and to roll out improved rural broadband and mobile coverage under the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund”.  

According to the MBIE’s  latest quarterly Broadband deployment update in March 2018, nationwide uptake of UFB stood at 42.3%. As of August last year, approximately 1.8 billion NZD has been invested in UFB infrastructure throughout the country.

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