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Telecom reveals UFB connection numbers

Telecom says nearly 1300 customers signed up for Telecom Ultra Fibre during November, the highest month of sales since Telecom entered the UFB market in March and besting the previous month’s record. 

The company says it now has almost 6,000 customers on Ultra Fibre or awaiting connection.

Telecom launched its UFB service without voice over fibre or billing software.

Spokesman Richard Llewellyn told NBR that Telecom still does not have a date to launch voice-over-fibre.

"In the meantime we continue to provide voice services over copper connections," he says.

Billing was added in September. Previously, the lack of billing software had meant every Telecom UFB customer effectively had unlimited data, whatever their plan.

According to Commerce Commission figures, Telecom holds around 50% share of the retail broadband market. Vodafone, which has only just released UFB plans, holds around 29%, with no other player above 10%.

Although Telecom is gaining UFB momentum, overall update remains low.

ICT Minister Amy Adams reported on November 15 that 320,000 end users now have access to Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) fibre - and increase of 21,000 in the three months to September 30.

The number who have chosen to actually subscribe to a UFB plan rose from just under 10,000 to more than 14,000 during the period, or from around 3% to 4%.

Fibre, VDSL customers using 3x as much data
Telecom also says that its customers are now using more data (in part a self-fulfilling prophecy as it raises data caps).

It says average home broadband usage is now 34 Gigabytes (GB) per month – up 89% in the past year

Average usage by Ultra Broadband customers (using Fibre or VDSL technology) is almost three times higher, at 80-90GB per month

Life beyond Chorus
Yesterday, Telecom said it had broadened its UFB base beyond Chorus areas for the first time, launching its first fibre plans in Christchurch via Enable.


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Comments and questions

Uptake will remain at these levels until two things happen:

First, the residential rollout proper begins. Currently the LFCs are working on priority customers - that is schools, hospitals and businesses. Residential deployment doesn't really start to roll until 2016 in our two main centres.

Until home owners get the opportunity to connect the uptake rates will appear low. Personally, I would like to see uptake rates among those priority customers so we can see what it's really like.

The second is that home owners will need to be given a reason to connect.

Currently the connection process for some customers is laughable. Weeks without internet or phone connectivity is not uncommon. Every day someone tells me their own tale of woe about UFB connectivity gone wrong and it's just unacceptable to most home owners.

That puts most off, but the lack of a reason to move today is a greater problem. Without legitimate access to high quality content, most customers won't bother.

Geeks like me will sign up as soon as we are able but for most middle New Zealand they won't see the need for several years.

On top of that, there's very little market effort being put in to tell the residential customers what's in it for them. The govt put on a multi-million dollar ad campaign to tell everyone to buy a new TV set but we've seen nothing at all done to promote the UFB.

Uptake figures only tell half the story - it's important we look at the whole picture.