News

UFB brings excitement about ‘the unknowns’

Posted on June 16, 2017

Hikurangi businesses and wider community are set to be the first in Northland to benefit from Round 2 of the ultra-fast broadband network expansion, exactly three years after Northpower Fibre completed New Zealand’s first UFB build in Whangarei.

Lindsay Knight - Northpower Fibre Technician          [Photo: Northpower]
Lindsay Knight - Northpower Fibre Technician [Photo: Northpower]

Construction at Hikurangi began in April and when completed in September will pass over 650 premises (potentially providing fibre connectivity to almost 2,000 locals) bringing an overdue boost to the town.

“The commencement of this UFB2 build marks another successful project milestone within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan as we work to ensure region-wide digital infrastructure is available to businesses," said Jude Thompson, Portfolio Manager for the Action Plan.

At the recent launch for the build, local businessman Shayn Rouse of Shayn Rouse Motorcycles said; “Yes we rely on digital technology for so much of our business activity but it’s the excitement about the unknowns that interests me – the possibilities that technology can bring that we don’t even know about yet or is still to be developed.”

Shayn Rouse Motorcycles
Shayn Rouse Motorcycles

In 2015 Northland Inc in collaboration with Northland’s four councils prepared a proposal in support of the government’s UFB2 initiative across several Northland towns and submitted it to government. It was seen as an opportunity to help break the digital divide in Northland.

In Hikurangi alone, the government is investing approximately $600,000 to help deliver UFB and says by the end of 2023, more than 94,000 people – or 54% of Northland’s population – will be able to access UFB.

Separately, Northpower was successful in its bid to extend its fibre network to 12 more Whangarei and Kaipara towns over the next four years, which will see it take UFB fibre to another 9,000 premises. Northpower will invest $30 million in its UFB2 project in addition to the $28 million it has already invested in the Whangarei UFB network since 2011.

“The commencement of this UFB2 build marks another successful project milestone within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan as we work to ensure region-wide digital infrastructure is available to businesses.”

Jude Thompson — Portfolio Manager - Tai Tokeraru Northland Economic Action Plan

Over the next decade Northpower will invest more than $20 million in the Whangarei UFB network. Northpower currently has the highest uptake – 40% – of any New Zealand Local Fibre Company, with more than 9,000 premises of a possible 22,500 premises connected to its Whangarei ultra-fast broadband network.

At 101.9Mbps, Northpower Fibre has the second fastest download connection speed for households and small businesses of any fibre network in New Zealand and has this year completed a world first – achieving 10 Gig speeds on their fibre network in a business and residential environment thanks to its partnership with Calix.

New Zealand has advanced in the OECD country rankings from 14th in 2015, to 11th in 2016, for population covered by fibre. Once the UFB initiative is complete in 2024, New Zealand should be in the top five in the OECD for having access to fibre - alongside Japan, South Korea and Spain.

For residents and businesses outside of these Northland UFB2 towns, the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiatives, also part of the Action Plan, are focused on broadband improvement; with the first initiative now complete and the second initiative currently having tender responses assessed.

There is also a focus in the tender on mobile blackspots for tourist areas and State Highways, of which Northland has 16 tourist sites and 143km of State Highway mobile blackspots identified.

“With companies like Northpower Fibre we are in good hands to deliver increased digital connectivity to Northland. These developments further reinforce that Northland businesses are quick to take advantage of digital infrastructure which bodes well for Northland’s economic future,” says Jude.