New Zealand is on track for a 10 gigabit per second residential and SMB fibre service, with Kiwi network operator Chorus kicking off trials of the service in mid-March.

The trial, which harnesses Nokia’s XGS-Pon fibre offering to provide 10Gbps in both directions – 10 times faster than the fastest plans available in New Zealand today – will see Kiwis accessing “one of the fastest broadband services available on the planet,” said Chorus chief customer officer Ed Hyde.

The service will be deployed over Chorus’ existing nationwide fibre broadband infrastructure and co-exists with the current offerings, making it “an easy upgrade path” for those wanting faster plans, Chorus added.

Eight retailers – 2degrees, 2Talk, Kordia, Orcon, Slingshot, Stuff Fibre, Trustpower and Vocus Communications – will be involved in the trial, with others also expressing interest.

Kiwis have been quick to embrace ultrafast broadband, which offers 100mbps services, and New Zealand’s UFB rollout has been in stark contrast to the beleaguered NBN.

The national roll-out of the NZ$1.35 billion UFB network – New Zealand’s equivalent of the NBN – saw around 51 percent of those able to connect to the Chorus UFB network, connecting. That’s 504,000 customers.

The UFB build will push fibre to almost 99 percent of New Zealand by 2022.

Meanwhile, Chorus already has 44,000 users on its 1Gbps service.

“In the last eight years New Zealand has seen a meteoric progression in broadband capability. In 2011 the average broadband speed was just 10Mbps or so,” Hyde said.

“When Chorus’ fibre plans first launched in 2012 the top speed then available was 100Mbps. We were then the first to make gigabit fibre broadband available in 2014 and today this is the fastest growing plan on our network with more than 44,000 customers,” he noted.

In December, the average Kiwi household used 235Gb of data for the month, with an average connection speed across the Chorus network of 96.5Mbps. Dunedin, which was the winner of nationwide competition which saw the city receive 1Gbps connections, logged an average connection speed of 349Mbps, well ahead of New Zealand’s other cities. Dunedin Wellington hit 109Mbps, followed by Auckland on 107Mbps to round out the top three.

Last week Optus announced plans for its first 5G offering in Australia. The wireless service, which is expected to begin switching on in the second quarter of this year (though devices are not due to hit the market until mid-year), will be offered at a price point to take on NBN.

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