Chorus pledges faster UFB

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 07:07 15/05/2014

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Faster internet plans offering the guaranteed ability to watch high- definition video online are on the way, potentially at little extra cost to consumers.

Telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus has confirmed it will effectively increase the speeds provided by its cheapest "entry-level" ultrafast broadband plan, and announced other new and improved - though, in some cases, slightly higher-priced - wholesale plans, for both UFB and copper-based broadband.

Chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said the plans offered more choice and better value.

A "commercial" entry-level UFB service that will wholesale for $40 a month from July will offer a download speed of 100 megabits per second and an upload speed of 20Mbps. Chorus said that would mean it would effectively replace the entry-level UFB service it is contracted by the Government to provide and which offers speeds of 30Mbps (down) and 10Mbps (up) for $37.50.

Spokesman Ian Bonnar said the government-contracted plan would still be available.

The company will also wholesale a UFB service from July that offers download and upload speeds of 100Mbps for $50 a month, and a 200Mbps symmetric service for $65, as well as some hybrid plans costing between $45 and $60.

Its enhanced copper broadband offerings, available from September, will have the biggest impact on the vast majority of consumers who have yet to make the switch to UFB.

Chorus said it would wholesale a "Boost HD" copper service with sufficient dedicated bandwidth to guarantee customers would be able to watch an HD video stream at all times for its existing copper-broadband wholesale price.

That is now $44.98 but is due to fall to $34.44 in December as a result of two controversial Commerce Commission rulings that are now under review. Boost HD would be available as an option on about 90 per cent of all broadband lines, Chorus said.

It will also offer "Boost VDSL", available on about 60 per cent lines and which would offer the benefit of a home- wiring upgrade, ensuring customers were ready for UFB when it became available in their street. That would also wholesale for $44.98 from September and $49.98 from December.

However, the price consumers will ultimately pay will be set by internet providers, which could charge a premium for the guaranteed speeds and any extra data they chose to provide.

When it first mooted launching enhanced copper plans last year, Chorus cautioned that it might need to discuss those plans with regulators.

A spokesman could not immediately confirm if it had needed or received approval from the Commerce Commission for the new copper-based plans.

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Chorus said the new plans had necessitated a "multimillion-dollar" investment in a new network switch from supplier Alcatel-Lucent that could route data at speeds of 16 terabits per second.

- The Dominion Post

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