Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout begins

Stoke, Tahunanui, Annesbrook and Richmond internet users will soon be able to access the web at ultra-high speeds.

Telecommunications company Chorus last week confirmed its plans for the third year of its Ultra-Fast Broadband deployment, including starting to roll the network out to new parts of Nelson and Richmond.

The new fibre will offer customers drastically increased speeds and more reliable service than broadband, and compete with Network Tasman's existing fibre network.

The July 2013 to June 2014 plan will see Chorus begin building the UFB network in parts of the outer areas of Richmond township, Stoke and the Nelson Airport area.

Chorus spokesman Robin Kelly said people would receive letters in their mailboxes once the fibre was laid, and those who were keen to connect to the new service should contact their internet service provider.

Installation costs varied, with "standard" installations - for houses less than 15 metres from their property boundary - free, while ‘non-standard' installations were costed on a case-by-case basis.

Once residents ordered a fibre service from their ISP, Chorus staff would come out to have a look and determine the cost, getting the home-owner's agreement before work started.

"If you're beyond 15 metres, there may be a cost associated with that, there may not be, but you won't know until you order and we come out and scope it."

There were many factors that related to installation costs, including the amount of infrastructure already in place, and the amount of additional wiring the customer wanted.

"It's too early to say whether there's a cost involved, but from a standard installation point of view, there's no cost for a single dwelling unit."

A fibre link was a completely new physical connection to the home, like having power or gas put into your home for the first time, he said.

Chorus staff would extend the road's fibre to the outside of the home.

Most homes had an external termination point - a small white box at about knee-level or near the roof - and the Chorus team would replace that with a new version that allows fibre to be connected.

Then a hole would be drilled into the customer's home, and extend the fibre to the customer's network terminal, wherever the customer wanted it installed, generally the lounge.

Elsewhere in the country, Chorus had been criticised for "overbuilding" on existing fibre owned by other organisations, rather than joining networks together.

Network Tasman operations and telecommunications manager Andrew Stanton said his company has had an extensive fibre network in Blenheim and Nelson since 2006.

While they currently only offered business fibre services, he said he believed Chorus could use their existing fibre for residential customers.

Instead, the company had been overbuilding in Blenheim and was about to start doing so in Nelson, he said.

Connecting the two companies' networks would save money and allow Chorus to build out to customers outside of zones Network Tasman had already reached.

However, Mr Kelly said the new Chorus network was built in an different way to Network Tasman.

Rather than a point-to-point network, offering one fibre link with the telephone exchange per customer, the new fibre was built to be point-to-multipoint.

This involved one link going to a cabinet, where it is split and then goes on to support up to 32 customers.

"It means we can offer ultrafast broadband at residential prices," he said.

"To suggest that we're overbuilding their fibre with more fibre, it's not really true. It's a different network.

"We literally have to build another network architecture."

He said he understood the two companies were in discussions about Chorus using Network Tasman's ducts, and possibly co-ordinating the timing of earthworks.

Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Brislen said he that he would prefer to see local fibre companies and Chorus use existing infrastructure where possible.

"Chorus and the [local fibre companies] need to be incentivised to use existing infrastructure where possible to reduce costs and speed up the deployment."