Ultrafast Fibre one-ups Chorus with 1Gbit/s UFB fibre plans

On May 14, Chorus said it would double the speed of its fastest residential UFB fibre plans to 200Mbit/s from July, wholesaling the new service to ISPs for $55.

Today, Ultrafast Fibre (UFF) said it will introduce a 1Gbit/s (1000Mbit/s) residential fibre plan from July, wholesaled for $65.

1Gbit/s is the speed the winning town in Chorus’ endless “Gigatown” competition will receive (the first phase of the Gigatown social media hashtag competition winds up in September).

UFF will also introduce a 100Mbit/sdownload speed and 20Mbit/s upload speed plan for $45 per month (Chorus’ equivalent plan costs $40) and 200Mbit/s down/20Mbit/s down plan for $55 (matching Chorus 200Mbit/s pricing).

There are two really positive trends here. Fibre plans are getting faster, making the new technology more attractive against copper. And more and more plans are being offered by retail ISPs uncapped, with plans instead being differentiated by speed.

Chorus has said it will increase the monthly price of its new entry level fibre plan by $1 a year from next year to 2019.

UFF has pledged to hold its 1Gbit/s and other new plan pricing at the same level until 2020 (for Chorus and UFF and other local fibre companies, retail ISPs set the final price).

Chorus is responsible for around 70% of the UFB rollout by premise.

The remainder of the public-private project is held by Enable (Christchurch), NorthPower (Whangarei) and UFF, owned by Crown Fibre Holdings and lines company Wel Networks (Hamilton, Tauranga, Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Tokoroa, New Plymouth, Wanganui and Hawera).

UFF CEO Maxine Elliott says the new 1Gibt/s plan will be available in all eight areas the company is constructing its UFB network.

UFF is not willing to talk about costs per premise passed. But numbers in its annual report imply the figure is around the $1200 mark — well below Chorus’ latest estimate of $2900 to $3200.

(UFF is owned by lines company Wel Networks and, like Northpower Fibre in Whangarei, enjoys the advanage of exiting overhead lines infrastructure and consents — which begs the question of how the world would be different if Vector had won the Auckland and Wellington legs the UFB, which ultimately became part of Chorus’ haul).

“We can confirm that the rollout is on track in fact slightly ahead of program.” Wel Networks GM of operations and fibre William Hamilton tells NBR.

The number of premises past is 97,000 past our plan, ahead of the plan for 81,000 at this time. Around 6% of customers within reach have chosen to connect so far.

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