UN broadband commision calls for urgent action to boost global connectivity

A UN-backed report on global broadband access has uncovered an urgent need to improve global connectivity, with traditional strategies failing to enable the remaining half of the global population to get online.

According to the State of Broadband 2019: Broadband as Foundation for Sustainable Development report – which was issued by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development – global growth in the percentage of households connected to the internet is slowing, rising only slightly to 54.8% from 53.1% last year.

In addition, it found that in low-income countries, household internet adoption had improved by a mere 0.8% on average.

Data on individuals using the internet also indicated slowing global growth in 2018, as well as a slowing growth in developing countries, which are home to the vast majority of the estimated 3.7 billion still unconnected.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development was established in 2010 by ITU and UNESCO with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda, and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets.

Led by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helù of Mexico, it is co-chaired by ITU’s Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. 

“Today, the main factor preventing people in developing countries from using mobile internet is not affordability but poor literacy and digital skills,” said Azoulay [pictured]. “Gender inequality in digital technology is even more alarming. Women are less likely to have internet access than men, and this gap is widening. The 2019 UNESCO publication ‘I’d Blush If I Could’, produced under the auspices of the EQUALS Global Partnership, illustrated that women are now four times less likely than men to be digitally literate, and represent just 6% of software developers.”

The report authors called for a new set of collaborative strategies to drive the concept of ‘meaningful universal connectivity’ through greater emphasis on resource sharing and a more holistic approach that treats broadband as a basic public utility and vital enabler of global development.

They argued that the notion of ‘meaningful universal connectivity’ also includes broadband that is available, accessible, relevant and affordable, as well as safe, trusted, user-empowering and leading to positive impact.

In addition, the report authors urged policymakers to ensure the concept to underpin their new digital strategies, as governments seek to find new ways to finance network rollouts, aimed at reaching unconnected populations.

Mobile broadband continues to dominate

The State of Broadband 2019 reports that while almost one billion new mobile subscribers have been added in the five years since 2013 (4.2% average annual growth), the speed of growth in mobile connections is also slowing, particularly at the bottom of the pyramid. Mobile network coverage improved much more slowly in low-income countries, with a mere 22% improvement in 4G coverage in the past five years, compared with a 66% increase in lower-middle-income countries.

In 2018, 4G overtook 2G to become the leading mobile technology across the world, with 3.4 billion connections, accounting for 44% of the total. 4G will soon become the dominant mobile technology, surpassing half of all global mobile connections in 2019, and expected to peak at 62% of all mobile connections by 2023.

Data show that of the 730 million people expected to subscribe to mobile services for the first time over the next seven years, half will come from Asia Pacific, and just under a quarter from Sub-Saharan Africa.

New strategies to connect the unconnected

The State of Broadband 2019 takes a nuanced look at the nature of broadband connections globally, observing that a false dichotomy between ‘connected’ vs. ‘unconnected’ can hide grave disparities in access and present an inaccurate picture of the realities on the ground in many countries.

It notes, that while a connection speed of 256kbps is counted as ‘broadband’ for statistical purposes, users connecting at such speeds cannot enjoy a full online experience comparable to that of users accessing the net over the 100Mbps-or-better connections now considered ‘standard’ in the world’s wealthier nations.

The report notes that individuals who are online may not fit into neat binary statistical categories (‘users’ vs. ‘non-users’). Instead, people are adopting a wide range of ways interacting with, and benefiting from, the internet.

There is also growing recognition of the potential downsides and risks of technology adoption, particularly for more vulnerable populations including women and children, who may become victims of cyberstalking, online aggression and hate speech, or internet-enabled child abuse, exploitation, or bullying.

 

Richard van der Draay is in Amsterdam as a guest of Informa Tech.

NBN Co stretches break-even point to 2023

NBN Co has revealed that it does not expect to find itself in a cash flow positive state until at least Financial Year 2023, a year later than the National Broadband Network (NBN) builder’s previous estimates released last year.

According to NBN Co’s latest annual corporate plan, which outlines the company’s long-range plans, projections and estimates from 2020 to 2023, the national network builder expects to see about A$700 million in positive cash flow in FY23.

At the same time, NBN Co’s latest estimates forecast negative cash flows of roughly A$200 million in FY22. This stands in stark contrast with the company’s Corporate Plan 2019-22, released in 2018, which forecast positive cash flows of around A$100 million in FY22.

One of the reasons for the new break-even point comes down to a reduction in activation figures in FY20, FY21 and FY22. Indeed, the latest report’s expected activation tally in FY23 stands at 8.6 million, which is 100,000 less than the expected 8.7 million in FY22 that was estimated in the 2019-22 corporate plan last year.

In FY20, the company now anticipates 500,000 fewer activations than it expected in the 2019-22 corporate plan, reducing its target from 7.5 million total activations to 7.0 million premises that year.

“Given the complexity of build expected through FY20, there has been a shift in phasing  for activations in FY20 and through FY21. The Company expects to connect 8.1 million customers by 30 June 2021,” the latest corporate plan stated.

NBN Co said in its report that this reduction is “purely a timing issue” around deployment and activations, with the Ready to Connect footprint coming later during FY20 than originally forecast in the previous year’s plan. The company added that there is no expected material change to the underlying performance of the business and revenue is forecast to recover to expected levels in subsequent years.

Another contributing factor for the delayed break-even point for the network builder is an increase in expected capital expenditure (capex) in FY20, FY21 and FY22, compared to the previous year’s figures. For example, NBN Co’s latest report puts expected capex in FY20 at A$4.3 billion. In last year’s report, the figure for FY20 was closer to A$3.6 billion.

These changes, of course, are reflected in the company’s all-important average revenue per user (ARPU) figures which, in the latest plan, indicate it expects to see residential ARPU rise from A$44 in FY19 to A$49 in FY23.

download (5)In last year’s plan, the company put its ARPU expectation at A$51 by FY22 – a figure that included business customers as well as residential customers. The decision to take the business contingent out of the ARPU equation in this year’s report was, according to NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue, to provide a more meaningful and transparent number.

The change in ARPU expectations is reflected in the company’s latest total revenue estimates, which are forecast to reach A$5.9 billion in FY23. While the total revenue figure for FY22 remains unchanged from last year’s estimates, the expected A$5.2 billion in FY21 and A$3.9 billion in FY20 have been downgraded in the latest plan to A$4.9 billion and A$3.7 billion, respectively.

Revenue is forecast to grow from A$2.8 billion in FY19 to A$3.7 billion in FY20 with the expected delay – or “rephasing” as NBN Co puts it – in network activations. Meanwhile, the plan continues to support a peak funding forecast of A$51 billion.

Despite tacking on an additional year until it expects to see positive cash flow and the reduction of anticipated activations in FY20, NBN Co remains upbeat about the rollout and ultimately meeting its stated goals.

In its report, NBN Co said that by the end of FY20, 11.5 million homes and businesses will be on track to be able to order a service on the network, fulfilling the commitment to complete the build in 2020. Currently, around 86 percent of premises throughout Australia are able to order an NBN service.

“To date, NBN Co and its delivery partners have rolled out more than 280,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable, repurposed and upgraded existing HFC [Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial] and copper technologies, built a Fixed Wireless network comprising some 2,200 towers and approximately 13,000 cells, and launched two satellites,” said Rue.

“With completion of the network well in sight, now is the time to focus on how Australians in homes and businesses across the nation can get the most out of the NBN access network.

“Improving customer experience and satisfaction will remain the key driver in coming years as we complete the transition to become a full-scale service delivery organisation – and we will put customers at the centre of everything we do.” he said.

Verizon strikes NBN Enterprise Ethernet reseller deal

The local arm of US telco giant Verizon has signed a reseller deal with NBN Co to supply the National Broadband Network (NBN) builder’s Enterprise Ethernet offering to its local customer base. 

The move gives Verizon Australia’s local customers, the bulk of which are government entities and private sector enterprises, the ability to combine NBN Co’s business-oriented broadband product with Verizon’s own services, such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Virtual Network Services (VNS).

“This agreement provides choice and competition that hasn’t existed on this scale before. Businesses, particularly those outside of the major cities, deserve access to the globally recognised, best in class services and capabilities that Verizon offers,” Robert Le Busque, Verizon’s regional managing director in Australia, said. 

“A robust network is the backbone of any business, and particularly today, where digital business is the norm, and organisations are increasingly looking for scalable, flexible network capacity to support global growth. 

“Verizon is pleased to be able to present a compelling alternative to Australian enterprise and government businesses,” he added. 

For Verizon, the deal marks a new milestone in its 20-plus year history in Australia, which has seen the company named among the panellists on the australian Federal Government’s Whole-of-Government Telecommunications Services Panel. 

The move sees Verizon join a handful of existing NBN resellers, including Telstra, Vocus and TPG, already offering the Enterprise Ethernet product, which is aimed squarely at the high-margin business market. 

NBN Co launched the wholesale enterprise product, which offers symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps and premium customer service, in October last year. At the time, the network builder said that its Enterprise Ethernet connections are designed to be built on request and feature a point-to-point fibre connection.

“This wholesale product has been developed with the specific needs of global enterprise and government organisations in mind. It is capable of delivering the service required by businesses that use data-intensive applications such enterprise network systems and cloud-based solutions,” NBN Co chief customer officer for business Paul Tyler said at the time. 

At launch, the product was touted as being packaged with a premium service-level agreement between NBN Co and retail service providers (RSPs) to provide faster resolution of faults as well as to encourage RSPs to offer an increased service experience for mission-critical applications. 

Risk of competing goals ‘negatively impacting’ NBN quality, affordability: Infrastructure Australia

If the National Broadband Network (NBN) can’t meet all of its stated goals and obligations once the rollout is complete, the ability for Australians to access affordable and high-quality services over the network may be “negatively affected”.

This is according to the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019, published on 13 August by the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor, Infrastructure Australia, the independent advisory body tasked with strategically auditing the nation’s key infrastructure.

The audit report, which covered areas such as transport, energy and water, delivered a mixed report card for the country’s telecommunication landscape, identifying several challenges relating to Australia’s fixed-line broadband offering, rural and regional availability, pricing and the NBN’s technology mix, among other things.

Unsurprisingly, the report’s telecommunications section focused heavily on the NBN, as one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects. One of the challenges highlighted in the audit report was an “inherent tension between the NBN’s strategic goals”.

It suggested that this tension will ultimately require potential trade-offs between the NBN achieving user outcomes and delivering a return on the capital investment made by taxpayers.

“If all goals cannot be achieved, the ability for Australians to access affordable and high-quality NBN services may be negatively affected,” the report authors said.

Moreover, the report suggested that these tensions raise the question as to whether or not the network will be sold and, if so, how exactly the assets would be divested and therefore how the market will be structured.

“A proposed eventual sale of the NBN to the private sector raises challenges in striking the right balance between realising its value for shareholders and achieving long-term goals for users,” Infrastructure Australia noted. “Decisions about restructuring and sale can affect both short- and long-term service delivery and outcomes for users.”

Another challenge relating to the NBN noted centred on its technology mix having been diversified, meaning that different users will receive different types of connections.

“This change will deliver varied outcomes for users, and some may shoulder higher costs or receive lower-quality services,” the report authors added.

As such, according to Infrastructure Australia, a range of NBN process and performance issues have arisen as the rollout has proceeded and users have migrated to the network, some of which are being dealt with by the company behind the rollout, NBN Co.

In addition, the independent infrastructure advisor flagged the risks that 5G network rollouts in Australia might present to the long-term competitive position of the NBN.

“Looking forward, risks for the NBN include competition from ongoing fixed line services and 5G fixed wireless substitution,” it said. “There is also the possibility of competition in remote locations from emerging low Earth orbit satellite technologies and other satellite technologies.”

However, the report also pointed out a potential silver lining, noting an opportunity for the NBN to leverage these technologies to deliver better services in its existing fixed wireless and satellite coverage areas.

Rural and regional Australians still missing out

Infrastructure Australia’s examination of the services offered to people in rural and regional areas was somewhat tempered by the existing limitations of the various technologies available, even with the NBN rollout underway.

“NBN’s use of fixed wireless and satellite technologies limits the choice of available broadband speeds and download quotas, particularly for remote areas,” it said. “However, these services are often the only option for regional Australian consumers and businesses.

“Although NBN is launching business-grade NBN services, these do not currently extend to [its] fixed wireless and satellite access technologies,” it said, noting NBN Co’s plans to deliver a business-grade satellite service this year.

More generally, however, Infrastructure Australia identified a range of issues with the current telecommunications services available for consumers in rural and regional areas, and for some minorities.

“The specific needs of rural and remote users are often overlooked in upgrades to national telecommunications infrastructure,” the report authors said. “Income, age, disability, education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status are all factors that influence levels of digital inclusion.”

“Geography also matters,” it said. “In rural and remote settings, the cost of providing telecommunications infrastructure increases and the returns reduce as population densities decline. In some cases, this limits the scope for universal coverage by commercially-focused private sector operators, without government intervention.”

“While Australia’s mobile footprint includes over 99 percent of the population, it covers only one-third of total landmass, meaning there is limited service in particular rural and remote areas, for example along transport corridors,” it added.

However, the audit report also cautiously identified opportunities to improve the telecommunications services for the digitally disadvantaged, and for rural and remote communities and businesses.

“5G mobile technology provides a potential step change in mobile telecommunications infrastructure for Australia, offering huge benefits including faster mobile data, minimal delays and the ability to separate services on the same network. However, the cost of rolling out 5G is high, and without a change in prioritisation, existing issues may be exacerbated in rural and remote areas,” the report authors said.

BORIS JOHNSON’S UK SHOWS AUSTRALIA THE WAY FOR FIBRE BROADBAND : Gary Mclaren

Copy of Copy of Copy of BREAKING NEWS

Gary McLaren headshot
By Hong Kong Broadband Network Co-owner and former NBN CTO Gary McLaren

The newly minted UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has doubled down on his campaign promise to ensure all UK households can get full fibre broadband connections by 2025.

During his first round of Prime Minister Questions (PMQs), Mr Johnson committed to “accelerat[ing] the programme of full fibre broadband by eight years, so that every household in this country gets full fibre broadband within the next five years.”

FireShot Capture 037 - Boris Johnson's UK shows Australia the way for fibre broadband – Gary_ - www.mclarenwilliams.com.au

Although such a commitment may be taken with a grain of salt given the other problems facing the UK at the moment, this statement highlights that high quality broadband remains a political issue in those countries that are falling behind in global broadband rankings.

The genesis of this policy appears to have been some Lincolnshire farmers who “smote their weatherbeaten hands together and roared their assent” when they heard of proposal from Mr Johnson. In his article advocating a reboot of “left behind” Britain by a turbo-charged broadband revolution, Mr Johnson contrasted the UK’s seven percent full fibre coverage with Spain’s 85% coverage.

Australia has seen this all before with Labor promising a National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout of full fibre to 93% of Australian households back in 2009 (yes – 10 years ago).  If the policy had been kept by the incoming Coalition government in 2013 it would be highly likely that Australia would now be in the closing stages of having a full fibre network that was ahead of not only Spain, but also comparable to many modern broadband economies in Asia such as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

However, the Coalition government, after many years of criticising the Labor NBN project, decided instead to follow the UK broadband model of the time and put most of the investment in Fibre to the Node (FTTN) technology. Malcolm Turnbull, speaking as the Opposition Communications spokesman at the time in June 2013, articulated this most clearly in his usual combative style in an interview with the ABC which he recounts on his blog site:

And I asked, for the umpteenth time again, why the ABC with all of its global news gathering resources continued NOT to examine the broadband experiences in other comparable countries. The approach we are taking is the same, essentially, as that taken by BT in the UK. They speak English, the ABC has an office there, they have upgraded around 19 million premises with very fast broadband for a cost of 2.5 billion pounds and in about 3 1/2 years. They have done 90% fibre to the node, 10% fibre to the premise. Very relevant you would think. Very interesting too and useful for the Australian public to know about.

But the UK has since changed its broadband plans dramatically.

In July 2018, the Conservative Government announced a target of 15 million households (about 50% of the UK) to have full fibre by 2025 with nationwide coverage by 2033. British Telecom’s fixed network subsidiary, Openreach, driven by competition from other broadband providers and active government pressure, announced in February 2018 a rollout of full fibre to 10 million households by the mid 2020s.

The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has developed a pro-competition, pro-private investment policy framework to drive these full fibre targets. At the centre of this policy is network based competition and shared access to duct and pole infrastructure.


Source : Ofcom

It is clear that the British Telecom FTTN project that Mr Turnbull copied for the Coalition’s Australian NBN was only a stop-gap and is now being over-built by the future proof full fibre network that dominates fixed broadband network rollouts worldwide. This is best illustrated by the surge in full fibre connections that has occurred in the last five years on a global basis.

Source : Point Topic

The UK has recognised that full fibre broadband is a necessary investment for the network economy that now dominates innovations and growth opportunities. Mr Johnson articulated this superbly in his article announcing the accelerated target :

A fast internet connection is not some metropolitan luxury. It is an indispensable tool of modern life. You need it for your medical prescription, for paying your car tax, for keeping up with the news and with your family and friends. It is becoming the single giant ecosystem in which all economic activity takes place. It is the place you find bargains. It is the place you find customers. It is not only the place you can find a job. It is the means by which you can be interviewed, and your talents uncovered, without incurring the cost of a rail ticket. If your area has a truly fast broadband connection, that area will be a better place to live, to invest, to set up a business; and that area will have a better chance of retaining talented young people, and allowing them to start up businesses and bring up their families.

The Australian conservatives (ie. the Liberal/National Coalition) need to take a long hard look at the UK’s broadband policy development under the UK Conservative Party in the last five years. Mr Turnbull may have thought the “old dart” had a smarter broadband back in 2013 but the UK and the rest of the world have moved on to a full fibre future.

Will Australia be able to make the change soon enough to limit the damage?

*This article republished with kind permission. It first appeared here.

Ekinops: Going fiber deep, don’t ignore your metro core

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By Ekinops’ product line and marketing director Guillaume Crenn

Hybrid Fiber Coax, known as “HFC”, is the well-established cable access network architecture.  As the name suggests, HFC consists of two separate media connecting a cable head-end to the subscriber. 

While the coax portion that connects to the subscriber gets most of the attention, the ‘heavy lifting’ is actually done by the fiber portion of the network. It’s here where we get the huge capacity necessary to deliver the content from and between cable head-ends, data centers, Internet PoPs and video server farms.

Why go ‘fiber deep’? 

Today, cable MSOs are migrating to a “fiber deep” approach that pushes fiber all the way to the local access node. This approach aims to support the next-generation distributed access architecture (DAA) in which the PHY function is distributed from its traditional location in the head-end, out to the local access point: a process known as Remote PHY, or RPHY.

With RPHY comes the ability to increase the capacity in the access network and, since 2016, MSOs both large and small have been doing this using new technologies such as DOCSIS 3.1 and full duplex DOCSIS (FDX). These technologies enable higher data rates and, in the case of FDX, symmetric downstream and upstream connectivity speeds up to 10Gbps.

With these technologies, MSOs can continue to leverage the installed coax network making it more economical to compete with the high-speed services offered by fiber-based providers.  However, these kinds of connections in the access (i.e., coax) network put enormous pressure on the metro core. Operating at these higher capacities, each subscriber is capable of consuming an entire wavelength, a situation that quickly exhausts capacity…

Considering that most metro core networks were built using 10G technology, MSOs need to migrate to a scalable, high-capacity infrastructure capable of providing the connectivity from the head-end to the content hubs located deeper in the core of the network.

In a recent survey published jointly by Light Reading and the SCTE, more than one-third of MSOs saw the need for 100G transport in their network over the next five years, while 18% believe they will need 200G and nearly 30% believe they will need 400G!*

Unfortunately for MSOs, time and experience have shown that forecasting bandwidth is a highly inexact science. And in fact, many will likely end up needing more capacity than they anticipate so they need a way to mitigate the risk of making the wrong choice when selecting their optical transport solution.

Choosing next-gen optical transport, today

Fortunately for the MSOs, the optical transport equipment industry has responded to the needs of this market. Today, the next generation of flexible transport systems are capable of tuning their performance depending on service demand. Based on third-generation digital signal processors (DSP), these platforms not only allow the network operator to decide what level of bandwidth to provision, but also to adjust that level to a higher (or lower) data rate as demand grows (or shrinks!). With this level of functionality, these next-gen systems now provide the risk mitigation MSOs need.

So if the 100G network the MSO forecasts now needs to be a 200G, or even a 400G network further down the line, a simple software adjustment is all that’s required to accommodate changing capacity demands – all with no need to replace cards or overbuild a whole new network!

With a highly functional, scalable optical transport network providing the backbone infrastructure, MSOs can rest assured their fiber deep strategies are well supported from day one and future-proofed for whatever capacity requirements may come their way!

* Source: LightReading survey, click here to get it

Guillaume Crenn has more than 20 years of experience in WDM Product Development and Operations in the telecoms industry. Prior to joining EKINOPS in 2010, he served as a WDM System Design Manager for Alcatel-Lucent and CORVIS-Algety (Telecom), as a Telecommunication Project Manager within the SANEF company (French motorway operating company)

KIWI FIBRE UNBUNDLING SPARKS ISP ANGST; FIBRE UP

New Zealand businesses are embracing fibre rapidly according to new figures, but there are storm clouds gathering on the horizon, with several ISPs already snarling over proposed pricing for new unbundled fibre services.

Last week Chorus released its proposed unbundled fibre pricing with Vocus and Vodafone – which have already showcased an unbundled offering – immediately hitting back with claims the pricing is too high and will result in a NZ$40/month price increase for fibre users.

InternetNZ quickly jumped into the fray, calling on the ISPs and Chorus to reach an agreement – quickly.

Unbundling will enable retail ISPs to gain direct access to fibre broadband cables so they can install their own technology and manage the full service to their customer, rather than having Chorus or other local fibre companies manage the broadband package details such as speed.

From next year, fibre companies – of which Chorus is the largest in New Zealand – will be required to provide unbundled services.

Chorus’ proposed pricing would see a monthly access charge of NZ$28.70 per month to cover access to the fibre between the premise and the splitter. Retail service providers would also have to pay NZ$200 per month to access the feeder fibre from each splitter – which can have up to 16 customers connected – to a central office where RSPs can pick up the unbundled service.

The network provider has warned the industry not to expect the same level of savings seen from unbundling the copper network.

Ed Hyde, Chorus chief customer officer, said: “While I’m sure some RSPs will argue for even lower input costs, the economic and technical reality of unbundling a newly-built, world-class fibre network is much more challenging than unbundling much older, often fully depreciated, copper network assets that have a fundamentally different architecture.”

“However, we are confident that an RSP that is committed to providing unbundled fibre services will be able to do so at this price point,” he added. “The pricing released for feedback today is the latest step in a near year long process of industry engagement, that has sought extensive feedback on the product and processes that will enable unbundled fibre.”

Back in the mid 2000s New Zealand went through copper unbundling – an extended process that proved to be one of the more contentious periods in New Zealand’s telecommunications history.

Jordan Carter, InternetNZ chief executive, said it would be a shame if an agreement could not be reached.

“Price is a major factor of why some New Zealanders don’t have access to the Internet. Any changes that could potentially increase Internet prices would be a terrible thing and would only expand digital divides,” Carter said. “It’s important that ISPs and Chorus work together to find a mutually agreed solution to unbundling fibre, otherwise the Commerce Commission will need to be involved to find a fair price.”

“It would be a shame if New Zealand’s Internet users had to wait for the Commission to sort this out,” he said.

Fibre growth

The flak comes as newly released Stats New Zealand figures show more than half of Kiwi businesses with six or more staff used fibre-optic broadband connections last year.

Geraldine Duoba, Stats NZ business performance manager, said: “Fibre usage has more than doubled to 52 percent, compared with four years ago. Access to faster broadband is seen as an important factor in enabling increased productivity and promoting economic growth.”

A further eight percent expect to be using fibre within a year.

The financial and insurance services industry had the highest proportion of businesses using fibre, at 82 percent, followed by the professional, scientific and technical services industry – which includes scientific research, legal and accounting, advertising and computer systems design services – at 78 percent.

Across New Zealand there were 714,258 users connected to UFB at the end of December – a 6.8 percent increase on the previous quarter.

New Zealand’s UFB build, which aims to provide UFB access to 87 percent of Kiwis across 390 towns and cities by the end of 2022, was 77 percent complete at the end of December.

The number of small businesses with no plans to use fibre has also dropped, however, 28 percent of businesses with fewer than 20 employees still say they have no plans to use fibre. That’s down from 41 percent in 2016.