Chorus has finished building the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network on Waiheke Island, meaning more than 5600 households, businesses, schools and health facilities now have access to fibre.
Chorus today joined Communications Minister Amy Adams for an event at local business, Casita Miro, which is already benefiting from UFB, to celebrate the completion of the project.
“UFB has the potential to transform New Zealand’s economy, our communities, and the way we connect to the rest of the world, so we are really looking forward to seeing how the Waiheke Island community can take advantage of having world-class connectivity right on their door step,” Chorus CEO, Mark Ratcliffe, said.
Ratcliffe said Waiheke Island residents are already large consumers of fibre broadband, with the average household using nearly 150GB last month.
“The reason for this surge in demand on Waiheke Island and right across New Zealand is the dramatic change we’re seeing in customer habits, specifically streaming video on demand,” he said.
“The arrival of Netflix and Lightbox services, together with Sky, TVNZ and TV3 online content, has suddenly made it easy for people to watch content when they want. NZ on Air estimate almost a quarter of New Zealanders are watching a streaming video service each day. On average, people are watching three hours of online content a day.”
For Ratcliffe, the impact on businesses and the economy has also started to gain a momentum that can be felt in many communities, including on Waiheke Island.
Casita Miro is one such business benefiting from UFB. Before getting fibre, owners Barnett Bond and Cat Vosper’s business was being stymied by slow internet.
The Eftpos machine would go down when restaurant customers were trying to pay, leaving queues at the till. The accounting, booking and vineyard management systems are all in the cloud, so slow, unreliable, internet was stopping staff doing their jobs.
In addition, Bond had to endure a long commute into Auckland Hospital every time he had to look at a patient file - despite the district health board having a secure encrypted internet system designed so doctors could work remotely. It just did not work from Waiheke.
“That all changed earlier this year, when we got fibre,” Bond said. “It’s made a world of difference. From the first day, speeds were incredible and we didn’t have any more problems with reliability.”
As a result, Bond said he can do a lot of his hospital work from home, reviewing big patient files, including scans and x-rays.
“My laptop in my office at home might as well be my computer at my desk in the hospital,” he explained. “I can be processing patient files at the same time everything else is going on.
“Fibre broadband means we can have staff members in the office doing accounts or taking restaurant bookings, we can have the chef in the kitchen making orders on the internet, and we can have customers in the restaurant accessing the internet via Wi-Fi.”