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Fibre dominates NZ broadband for first time as fixed wireless slows

Fibre dominates NZ broadband for first time as fixed wireless slows

Broadband speeds lift, taking New Zealand from 26th in the world to 17th

Credit: Supplied

New Zealanders are embracing fibre broadband  fast as legacy and rival access technologies fade. 

The Commerce Commission's annual telecommunications monitoring report, released today containing analysis to to the end of September 2019, shows for the first time fibre is now the dominant fixed broadband technology.

Further, over 46 per cent of household fixed-line connections now have no voice service as more and more consumers are opting to not have a home phone. 

Total copper broadband connections dropped to 581,000, year-on-year, with all variants, including higher speed VDSL, declining. 

At the same time there were 880,000 fibre connections out of the 1.6 million households and businesses currently able to connect to the Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) network. 

This is an increase in connections of around 31 per cent since September 2018.

Fixed wireless connections increased to 11 per cent of total broadband connections at 188,000. However, growth in connections slowed to 14 per cent, compared with 36 per cent in the same period of 2018.

As at 31 December 2018, ComCom noted, New Zealand ranked third highest out of the OECD countries for

fixed wireless broadband connections with 3.5 subscriptions per 100 of population, behind the Czech Republic at 10.3 and Slovak Republic at 5.7.

Data usage by both fixed and mobile connections has continued to increase over the year, however growth in both categories had slowed.

The average data consumption per fixed broadband connection increased from 172GB to 208GB per month while the average data consumption per mobile connection increased from 2.0GB to 2.7GB per month. 

Growth in fixed broadband data usage eased to 21 per cent compared to last year's 48 per cent. Similarly, growth in mobile data usage dropped to 35 per cent compared to 2018 when growth was 69 per cent.

Fibre use is surging in New Zealand.Credit: Commerce Commission
Fibre use is surging in New Zealand.

In 2019 the average broadband download speed was almost 33Mbit/s, up from 24Mbit/s in 2018. 

This saw New Zealand’s 2019 rank in Cable.co.uk’s worldwide broadband speed league increase from 26th to 17th.

The prices of New Zealand mobile plans were below the OECD average for all the plan types ComCom measured. 

The price of a New Zealand entry level mobile plan giving 30 calls and 500MB of data at $18 per month was 31 per cent below the OECD average. 

A high use mobile plan with 300 calls and 5GB of data is $48, cheaper than the OECD average by $2.

Geoff Thorn the CEO of telco carrier group the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum, said the competitiveness of the New Zealand industry was evident in the pricing of services, with ultra-high broadband users able to access unlimited data at high speeds for far less than the OECD average.

“Despite the increased demand for data, New Zealand broadband speeds are still improving with our fixed line broadband speeds well above the OECD average," Thorn said.

Smaller providers continued to increase their market shares in the fixed broadband market, according to ComCom.

Spark holds the largest market share, but both it and Vodafone lost ground to smaller retailers in 2019.Credit: Supplied
Spark holds the largest market share, but both it and Vodafone lost ground to smaller retailers in 2019.

"Other" providers’ market share increased from 8 per cent in 2018 to 11 per cent this year. 

This growth was largely at the expense of Spark and Vodafone whose market shares in 2019 both dropped 2 per cent to 41 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. 

Both Vodafone and Spark have been pushing fixed wireless services as an alternative to fibre.


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