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.

The Kiwi wrap: UFB complaints, Fortinet deal for schools and Vodafone’s new fibre bridge

UFB complaints increase

Complaints about ultrafast broadband installations are on the rise in New Zealand, according to the latest report from the Telecommunications Dispute Resolutions.

The TDR, an industry body comprising a set of some 95% of the nation’s telco providers by revenue, which handles complaints for the sector, recorded 666 complaints and enquiries in the January to March quarter. Billing issues remained the largest source of complaints at 39% or 265 complaints/enquiries, with disputed charges the greatest proportion of billing complains.

Fibre installations, meanwhile, prompted 48 complaints/enquiries, or 7.2% of overall issues raised, behind customer service, faults and contracts – with TDR noting that while UFB installation complaints are on the rise, they “remain in proportion to the rise of installations across New Zealand.”

Vocus and Trustpower have continued to top the complaints list for New Zealand telcos for the Jan-Mar 2018 quarter, with 2.7 and 2.5 complaints per 10, 000 connections, respectively.  Both firms recorded a slight increase in complaints for the quarter.

Spark recorded just 0.5 complaints and enquiries per 10,000 connections, with 2degrees logging 0.7, and Vodafone 1.0 per 10,000.

Fortinet network security for Kiwi schools

New Zealand’s schools are to receive “more robust protection against online threats” with a new upgrade to the Network for Learning managed network, as usage across the network has soared to hit more than 12 petabytes in the first two terms.

The upgrade will see schools transitioning to a combined enterprise-grade firewall and internet filtering service from Fortinet. Improved internet filtering tools, modifiable to suit individual classes and students, and smart reporting will also be part of the upgrade, along with offerings to enable schools to manage attempts to bypass their internet filtering with virtual private networks.

Network for Learning (N4L) is a crown company whose network connects more than 2,400 schools across New Zealand.

The network has seen data usage almost double year-on-year. N4L said more than 374 million websites and 118.000 virus and malware threats have been blocked across the managed network in the first two terms this year.

Hawera High School in Taranaki is one school recently affected by ransomware, with student work and teaching resources among the files encrypted – with a demand of US$5,000 in bitcoin made for the return of the data. The school had opted out of N4L’s current security offering…

Vodafone serves up fixed wireless as fibre bridge

Vodafone New Zealand is offering a fixed wireless broadband service, targeting those customers waiting for fibre to be installed.

The Ultimate Home Fibre plan will provide customers with a mobile broadband connection via Vodafone’s 4G/3G network while they wait for a fibre connection.

The telco said its new service will make it easier for people to switch to fibre. “Our customers tell us they are frustrated by installation wait times, while others say they are putting off a move to fibre because they simply don’t want to be disconnected while they wait,” added Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams.

Vodafone claims ‘tens of thousands’ of customers across all providers are waiting for fibre, which is installed by Chorus and other local fibre companies.