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Businesses uptake of fibre accelerates

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 28 March 2019, 12:00 pm

The rate of fibre broadband adoption continues to increase, with Stats NZ reporting today that more than half of New Zealand businesses employing six or more employees now have fibre-optic connections.

"We are seeing more and more businesses taking up fast broadband. Fibre usage has more than doubled to 52 percent, compared with four years ago. Access to faster broadband is seen as an important factor in enabling increased productivity and promoting economic growth," says Stats NZ business performance manger Geraldine Duoba.

Leading the way is the financial and services industry, with the highest proportion of businesses using fibre - 82%, and this is followed by professional, scientific, and technical services (research, legal, accounting, advertising and computer systems) industry at 78%.

The results are from the 2018 business operations study undertaken by Stats NZ. Past results from the annual survey shows that while those using fibre has increased, there are still 25% of businesses overall that have no plans to move to a fibre connection. As the table below shows:

Business fibre.png

Stats NZ notes that of those businesses with fewer than 20 employees, 28 percent said they had no plans to use fibre, compared with 41 percent in 2016.

Duoba says the uptake in fibre connections by businesses is in part due to the adoption by consumers. The most recent update from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment shows that the number of end users able to connect to the Ultra Fast Broadband network is just over 1.4 million, with those who are connected at around 714,000. The adoption curve is generally tracking in the same upward trajectory as the rollout. As the graph on the MBIE website shows:

UFB adoption.png

 

The increasing adoption of fibre broadband has seen the government extend the programme, with UFB2 now kicking off. This will mean 87% of New Zealanders will have access to the fibre network by the end of 2022.

The uptake in demand is a testament to the UFB's success. And while it might seem obvious now that people would want faster broadband services, it wasn't always a sure thing when the UFB programme began in 2011. There was plenty of discussion about whether it would be supported by New Zealanders. The then Telecommunications Commission Ross Patterson even launched a study into the factors that might inhibit the uptake of high-speed broadband networks. It's terms of reference included a proposal "to identify the factors that may affect the uptake of high speed fibre broadband services in New Zealand - including home wiring, network neutrality, peering, IP interconnection, data caps and content - and to assess whether any of the those factors are likely to amount to a barrier to entry or expansion in to the telecommunications market."

Whether it was proactive moves by the regulator, or the range of new online services being offered to consumers - or most probably a combination of both, it's really pleasing to see that concerns about low uptake of fast broadband networks are not being realised.


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