UFB uptake slow but rollout well on target

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014

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The ultra-fast broadband rollout in Timaru is "on target" to be completed ahead of schedule, but uptake remains low.

Fibre-optic provider Chorus has overseen the rollout in Timaru since April 2012, and now more than 12,800 homes and businesses have access to speeds up to 100 megabits per second, nearly 10 times the usual rate.

But the latest uptake figures suggest just under 5 per cent of those capable of switching to UFB have actually taken up the offer.

Chorus spokeswoman Elissa Downey said it had targets for building the project, but not uptake. "We're very satisfied, we're ahead of schedule," she said. "We're working hard to get it done."

Downey said "fibre was a once-in-a-generation upgrade".

"It's going to be around for a long time ... usage of the internet is going to be ever more prevalent. We're not marketing it to the end-users, we're providing the infrastructure."

She said Chorus' role was to educate people through campaigns such as "Gigatown", which pits towns against one another for the chance of getting broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit a second. Timaru is currently in fifth place in the Gigatown campaign, with Wanaka first.

"There's a core group of people within Timaru who are really passionate about this project, and the potential benefits it might bring, but I think it might take a while for others to catch on," Downey said.

Chorus has contracted Downer EDI for the infrastructure work on the UFB rollout to Timaru.

In the early stages of the project, the Herald received multiple reports of power outages and water outlets affected as a result of drilling by Downer. However, those complaints have dwindled as the project progressed.

Downer's human resources manager Rolf Siggaard said the rollout was about "two months ahead of schedule", and on target to be completed by April.

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- The Timaru Herald

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