The Ultra-Fast Broadband 2.0 roll-out is under way, with Hikurangi in Northland and Hokitika on the West Coast the first to benefit from a $300 million extension of the original UFB programme.
Announced in January, the extensions will service a further 423,000 people across 151 towns.
Meanwhile, more than a third of New Zealanders with access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) are now connected, said communications minister Simon Bridges. That is up from 31% at the end of 2016.
The March 2017 Quarterly Broadband Update released today shows the number of households, business, schools and hospitals connected to UFB has increased 12% in the past three months to 367,788.
The quarterly update also shows that deployment for phase one of the UFB programme is almost three-quarters complete, providing 1.1 million households and businesses with access.
The build in Hokitika will be completed early next year, providing an additional 3200 people in more than 1500 premises with access to UFB.
Network provider Chorus joined Westland Mayor Bruce Smith for an event to mark the start of project.
“We are delighted that Hokitika has been chosen to be the first cab off the rank for Chorus’ part of the UFB2 initiative,” said Smith.
“Our major industries such as the Dairy Company, Silverfern Farms and many local IT businesses were delighted to be informed of the commencement of the build.
“It is also great to see Chorus using local contractors for the majority of the build.”
The $600,000 build in Hikurangi will be completed later this year, providing an additional 1830 people across more than 550 premises with access to fibre.
“The Government has invested around $2.5 million to deliver UFB to Hokitika. Under the extension to the programme, fibre deployment is also planned for Reefton, Westport and Runanga,” communications minister Simon Bridges said.
By the end of 2019, more than 18,000 people – or 53% of the West Coast’s population – will be able to access faster, more reliable broadband.
Under the extension, fibre deployment is also planned for Kerikeri, Dargaville, Paihia, Ruakaka and Taipa Bay-Mangonui, among other towns and areas in Northland.
By the end of 2023, more than 94,000 people in Northland – 54% of the population – will be able to access UFB.
The Government is investing around $2 billion in its UFB and Rural Broadband programmes which, will allow 85% of New Zealanders to access UFB by the end of 2024.
Monthly household data consumption burgeoned in the last five years, growing from about 13 GB of data a month in 2011 to more than 150 GB a month today.