Access to ultra fast broadband is a critical aspect of a property for sale

Alistair Helm

This question was asked on twitter this week as to whether this property advert was the first in NZ to feature the proposal to be 'Gigatown-ready'? - it got me thinking about Ultra Fast Broadband int he context of property marketing. 

@ChorusNZ is this New Zealand's first 'Gigatown-ready' real estate ad? http://t.co/huMbjtK5Q1#GigatownNapier

— ryan (@ryaninnz) November 10, 2013

Now Gigatown, if you did not know it is a competition organised by Chorus, which over the next year looks to decide which NZ town becomes the lucky recipient of one gigabit per second internet connection.

Think about it - 1 Gigabit per second - currently copper based broadband is around 10 Megabits per second, that's barely one hundred's the speed, even fibre only gets to 100 Megabits - a tenth of the speed, and poor old dial up modems struggled to get just 56 kilobits per second. Put that in context, an episode of 'Breaking Bad' on iTunes is 1.5Gb in HD - so if you had a gigabit/sec download speed, just a couple of blinks and and its downloaded, but on a dial up modem you would be best to start downloading before heading to bed, as it would take 7 hours and 26 minutes!

Now the property for sale highlighted in the tweet was not as yet, the lucky recipient of one gigabit per second broadband speed, but clearly the agent selling the house Colleen Schofield of Bayleys in the Hawkes Bay was smart enough to recognise the value of marketing a property featuring the fast current broadband access of 100 megabits per second. 

This is a trend we are more likely to see in the future and something I think the real estate industry needs to incorporate into the component dataset of facilities in a property for sale. For just as important as the proximity to shops and transport as well as orientation on the section should be the current accessibility of broadband as ADSL or ADSL2 or fibre. 

Judging by the current selection of property on the market searching through Trade Me's listing, the real estate industry is not focussing on internet speed as a core component of facilities at properties. There are just 42 properties which include the search term 'ultra fast' on Trade Me Property today. More than half of these are actually future development properties, with just 19 being existing properties. 

From the latest government data there are now just under 10,000 homes connected to ultra fast broadband under the initiative which seeks to connect 75% of NZ to such access by 2019 - currently up to around 170,000 premises. On average of the more than 1.7 million properties in NZ around 3% are on the market at any one time - 50,000 properties.

If that ratio of 3% was applied to the number of houses with ultra fast broadband we should see around 290 homes for sale in NZ which have UFB - but we appear to have 19 - something is not right! 

The real estate industry needs to ensure that every property listed by an agent has details of the internet connectivity as standard - it is as important as the other utility services and in the case of UFB it is a selling point! 

Former Realestate.co.nz CEO Alistair Helm is founder of Properazzi.

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9 Comments & Questions

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You seem to be mixing up units in your calculations.
A 1.5Gb file would be 187MB's and would only take a few seconds it you could pull it at the full 1gigabit/s.

ITYM 1.5GB file size, which would take ~15 seconds or so.

Of course, you're not actually going to get those speeds in real life, especially if the content is coming from overseas, as there are too many variables involved.

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a 1.5GB episode of breaking bad means 4Mbps bitrate roughly.

Since there is no point downloading it faster than you can watch it, remind me why you need 1Gb fibre when 10Mbps ADSL2+ (which >80% of the country already has) will be more than twice what you need to stream the episode in real time?

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Because I'll be watching Breaking Bad but my wife will want to catch up on Shortland Street while one child does her homework and the other one Skype's her cousin in Australia.

Meanwhile, my fridge will be dialing in to the service agent, as will my car, my heat pump and all my iDevices, looking for updates, patches and reporting on problems.

I might only need 10Mbit/s but "I" am not alone as the only user of bandwidth in my house any longer.

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....and I can do all the stuff you talk about on my ADSL connection.

2 x video streaming in full HD is 8Mbps (and never mind that Shortland street is not HD on catch up, it actually maxes out at 1.5Mbps)

browsing the internet uses basically no bandwidth - teeny tiny short bursts, more than coped with on the video side by a bit of buffering to smooth out the connection

your remote fridge and other M2M type devices will uses bytes of data, no need for high speed there,

and all the patches can be downloaded overnight whilst nobody else is using the internet.

Sure having more bandwidth is always 'nice' but is it $1.5bn better than existing technologies (and the 10Mbps still ignores VDSL - which can go up to about 60Mbps)

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Apart from the issue with units - confusing Megabits and Megabytes, which would mean that a dialup modem would take at least 70hrs to download that episode of Breaking Bad, I agree that UFB access is a real selling point - but probably only for a small fraction of the market who are aware of the advantages

And in reply to your statement, faster is *always* better. 1Gb/s > 100MB/s > 10MB/s. Not everything is about streaming video, and when waiting for the latest OS download (say 5GB) even a 10Mb/s link feels slow. Current UFB speeds are at the bottom of the ladder, and are capable of going much higher, while copper has real limits (e.g. distance limits from cabinets/exchanges)

I for one am enjoying my fibre connection - and I really don't think your 10MB connection could match my household requirements - last night for example a 5GB game download only took 13min from Steam (a local ISP cache eliminated any limits of the wider internet), and didn't stop the rest of the house watching (at least) two streaming HD videos at the same time. UFB means that you don't have to do your photo backups or game patches at overnight.

$1.5bn might sound like a lot of money, but is nothing in terms of national infrastructure - only around four A380 planes for example

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There isn't much point in downloading faster than you can watch it if you're streaming (except for skipping parts), but there is if you're downloading a copy - particularly for putting on a mobile device. Spending a few seconds downloading something to put on your mobile/tablet just before you leave home is much better than having to remember half an hour beforehand.

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Does it matter if you can or cannot download a video in real-time? If buyers want UFB and are prepared to put a premium on it then making sure they know it is installed is very important.
I am aware of a few people who have moved properties to get UFB. If I was selling a property with UFB it would be far more important than "Septic Tank" which I saw recently for a property connected to the city waste pipes.

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One major factor missed out was that of contention. You may get a fibre speed of 1G but if you get contention by the service provider then you need multiple streets of data to get that amount of throughput.
Also a fibre will support up to 10G of data with a single light wave.... It's not the fibre that's the limiting factor it's the provider.

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be very careful here Mr Helm as my understanding it is the availability of the broadband connection that is the key.

In the same way some homes have a fireplace and other appliances that are gas fired via reticulated gas other houses may not have gas but the connection is available in the street and be accessed at a cost of connection..Some houses cannot access gas as there is no gas reticulated in the street or neighborhood yet I have been in many houses that use bottled gas and it is very competitive in terms of gas as do some restaurants.I understand high speed broadband can be acquired anywhere at a cost and then it depends how much you use anyway.A landline phone connection isnt a sale fundamental.

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