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Orcon UFB customers jump five-fold in a fortnight

Orcon says it will have 1000 UFB fibre customers by the end of the week, plus 10,000 on a wait-list.

Mid-month, the ISP groused it had just 200 UFB customers (although a healthier 8500 on a wait-list).

CEO Scott Bartlett had a noble aim: to shine a spotlight on Chorus, which controls most of the Ultrafast Broadband fibre roll-out, and has been fuzzy on the duration of a free connection promotion beyond year's end.

The Orcon boss also had a pragmatic goal: to cajole the government into running TV ads to promote fibre, like across the Tasman.

And, naturally, he had a nakedly self-promotional agenda, looking to score publicity for Orcon's free fibre deal (which, yes, has catches – notably charges if you want a decent amount of data, or more speed).

Bartlett struck out on the first two counts. Chorus did not feel moved to clarify its position. A spokesman told NBR ONLINE told it was too early to tell.

Still, a little extra publicity didn't hurt, and Mr Bartlett says the word among ISPs is that the free connections will be made permanent, a compromise deal involving a token $99 connection fee having been scotched. Chorus says it hopes to make an announcement "in a few weeks".

And ICT Minister Amy Adams was not about to book any commercials to goose demand for fibre-to-the-home.

But Bartlett did bag widespread coverage for the free fibre deal (aided by the fact Orcon – part of Crown-owned Kordia – is the only major ISP offering residential fibre plans at this point).

And it seems to have done the trick.

Over the weekend, Orcon's CTO bragged on Twitter about "500 connects" in the space of days.

A spokesman today confirmed things had sprung to life.

"We have 650 live orders in the system," he told NBR.

"That’s people who have signed up, and are in the process of getting fibre services installed and will be connected soon.

"By the end of the week, we expect to have more than 1000 customers with orders in the system, including those who are already connected."

Registrations are nearing the 10,000 mark – or nearly 10% of Orcon's customer base.

That's arguably not bad at all, given residential fibre only arrived in any quantity in June – currently it only passes around 45,000 homes, with 140,000 estimated by the end of the year.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions

so they now have 5 customers?

Good on Orcon for taking the initiative and getting some quick results. No surprises that they're first, but they have been smart about it.

The problem with the Fibre roll out is they aren't starting with areas of high demand. They should look to Google to see how a commercial enterpricse would do this:

1. Split the rollout into areas.
2. get people to register their interest
3 roll out in areas of high interest first

How many millions have been wasted (in the short term) rolling out fibre that no one has connected to.

Get an independent auditor to review the claims - I think there will be a negative variance than stated. I doubt there would be many residential fiber customers simply due to the expense of the product, the risk of using data over the customer's allocated limit and competing products such as VDSL (see Voyager). The next area to consider is a guarantee of service quality; Orcon are well known for their aggressive oversell ratio's. Eventually these strategies will come back to bite Orcon & the customer.