Telecom launches ultra fibre in Waikato

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 14:43 24/06/2014

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New Zealand's biggest telecommunications provider is now offering fibre plans in the Waikato.

The fibre broadband network, which is being laid throughout the country as an alternative to slower copper cables currently in use, is about 60 per cent complete across the Waikato.

However uptake has been slow, with only seven per cent of residents, and 12 per cent of business signed up in May.

At the time the country's two biggest internet providers, Vodafone and Telecom, were not offering fibre retail plans. 

However, today Telecom launched its Ultra Fibre Broadband packages for business and residential customers in Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Tokoroa.

It also offered them to Tauranga, New Plymouth and Hawera.

Telecom head of broadband and internet David Redmore said Telecom ''would have liked to have launched ages ago'' in Waikato.

''It wasn't about waiting for a certain critical mass. We are big supporters of the UFB programme and we want to be out there selling it as soon as we can.''

He said there was a ''lot of work'' making sure its part of the network was ready to offer customers what they expected, as well as connecting in to local fibre companies.

Redmore said Whanganui and Taupo were next on the list for the company.He said there were another three new areas where the local fibre company had not yet made services available.

''One is Waiheke Island, Rangiora and Fielding. We are ready to go as soon as the local fibre company is ready.'' 

Ultrafast Fibre chief executive Maxine Elliott said Telecom's launch was a ''big milestone'' for the company.

''They make up 50 per cent of the market so it will start to become a mass market now.''

She said the low pick-up figures so far were probably because Telecom and Vodafone had been absent from the market, and most people wanted to stick with their providers and wait until they offered packages.

Elliott said that feedback from customers who had shifted networks was that they would ''never go back''.

''In small businesses particularly are saying it. 

''They are seeing speeds available they could not afford before.''

Telecom plans range in price from entry-level 40GB residential at $85 per month, to the ''Giganaire'' plan offering unlimited Ultra Fibre Broadband starting from $99 per month if bundled with a mobile plan. 

Telecom retail chief operating officer Jason Paris said fibre offers a better quality internet experience.

''With the best available consistency of speed to your home, this means a better gaming, TV and video streaming, downloading and uploading experience,'' he said. ''For business, Ultra Fibre opens the door to greater use of cloud-based applications to improve business productivity. Other business applications such as video conferencing between offices or customers are as smooth as butter on Ultra Fibre.''

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Vodafone does not yet offer retail packages for fibre.

The company did not respond immediately to calls about when its launch was likely to be.Residents of streets where fibre infrastructure has been installed by UltraFast Fibre can sign up at telecom.co.nz/addresschecker or by calling 123. 

- Waikato Times

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