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Does Fibre broadband work in a power outage?

Fibre broadband requires that your ONT and router are both powered on to function, so it will not work in a power outage.

This is a similar situation to other types of broadband, where during a power outage your modem/router will lose power and prevent your internet connection from working.

While power outages are relatively rare in most New Zealand towns and cities, they do happen from time to time, so it’s important to understand how this can impact our internet connection and any other services we’re using which may depend on our connectivity.

What can be done to keep fibre working during a power cut?

One method that can be used to allow your fibre broadband to continue working during a power cut is to install a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply).

This is a piece of equipment that contains a large battery, which is designed to continue providing uninterrupted power to whatever devices are plugged into it in the event of a power outage – usually for a number of hours depending on the size of the battery - and how much power is being drawn.

Using this method, you can plug your Fibre ONT and Router into the UPS, and if the fibre infrastructure in your region hasn’t also been knocked offline by the power outage, your connection should remain working during any intermittent power outages.

The local fibre companies do have their UFB infrastructure largely designed to cope with power outages, with battery banks and diesel generators as a backup – so usually as long as you have your UPS running at your place, your fibre connection can keep working as normal.

Naturally your desktop computers and so on won’t be working in a power outage (and typically would quickly run your UPS flat if plugged into that as well), but many people will have laptops and mobile phones that have their own batteries and will still be able to connect via WiFi to their router to continue using the connectivity available during the outage.

What about VOIP phone lines that rely on an internet connection?

As New Zealand continues moving away from the old copper phone lines, and gradually shuts down the copper infrastructure, more and more of us have our landlines running over VOIP – both at home and at the office.

While this means we usually end up paying less for our phone service and calling and get better features – it does mean that our phoneline stops working during a power outage.

Obviously as the vast majority of people also have a mobile phone this is not usually a big deal for people – however it should be understood, particularly if for example you’re perhaps an elderly person who doesn’t use a mobile phone and relies on your landline to check in with family members regularly.

Once again, a UPS powering the ONT and router can be used to solve this situation, if you’ve got a standard corded analogue phone that doesn’t require power to function. In that situation if your fibre broadband is working as expected, so too will your phoneline be working.

If your phone requires power, you could also connect this to your UPS, though obviously the more electronics you plug into a UPS, the faster it will discharge its battery.