Also known as Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), Fibre Broadband is New Zealand’s nationwide modern internet infrastructure – which is systematically replacing our countries old copper phoneline based internet connectivity, which includes ADSL and VDSL.
Fibre is the gold standard for fast and reliable broadband, and can be used in homes or businesses. In fact, many countries around the World are looking to New Zealand with serious internet envy – over the last few years NZ has rocketed up the global speed index due to our accelerating uptake of Ultra Fast Broadband connections over Fibre, and the diminishing numbers of slower copper based connections such as ADSL.
As of October 2020, New Zealand is sitting in the top 12% of countries by average fixed line broadband speed, ranked 22 out of 175 countries!
So how does Fibre broadband work?
As the name implies, Fibre broadband is connected using Fibre Optic strands that allow pulses of light to transmit data at incredibly fast speeds.
The vast majority of New Zealanders now have Fibre in the street outside their property.
In most cases Fibre can then easily be run into your property and be connected to a small box called a Fibre ONT inside your home or business.
Your router simply plugs into that Fibre ONT, and all your computers and mobile devices connect to your router as normal via network cables or over WiFi, just as they would if you were using older copper internet services like ADSL or VDSL.
So as a result, you now have high speed data transfer between your property and your internet provider (via the local Fibre cabinets and exchanges), and your ISP have their own high speed connections out to the rest of New Zealand and the wider world.
Don’t worry if that all sounds too complicated – it’s actually very straight forward to get installed, and the main benefits to New Zealanders are that the connection allows for very high speed download/upload of data, low ping times, and plenty of other benefits which we’ll go into below!
Benefits of Fibre over copper?
If you think about what fast internet means to you, you might immediately think of being able to download a file much more quickly.
This is definitely one of the benefits of getting Ultra-Fast Fibre broadband – but there are many more, so let’s take a look.
One of main benefits of a fast fibre connection is that multiple people in your home or office can be downloading, streaming, gaming, making video calls – whatever it is they want to do – without impacting the others experience.
In the past on older connections like ADSL, it was common for one persons usage of the internet to badly impact others – for example downloading a large file hogging all the bandwidth, and causing others video streams to stop and start buffering, or their video call to start glitching out.
Thankfully that is largely a thing of the past on Fibre broadband – and just as well too, as we all are moving to more and more data usage, downloading, streaming content like Netflix and Spotify, so the last thing we’d want would be to keep running into those annoyances!
Beyond the speed aspects, reliability is also a big improvement over broadband running over old copper phonelines.
The Fibre infrastructure is brand new, rather than an ageing copper network, which helps.
But it’s also that the majority of the infrastructure is underground rather than phonelines strung from power poles in the street, which regularly get knocked down by falling branches in storms.
Likewise, Fibre is less likely than copper networks to see faults due to bad weather in general – whether that is related to lightning strikes or to driving rain getting into copper (electrical) infrastructure where it causes all sorts of issues.
Naturally no type of broadband is immune to some degree of these issues – but they are less common for Fibre.
What sort of speeds are possible over Fibre?
Fibre supports a wide range of speeds from 30Mbps up to thousands of Mbps – pricing of course varies widely as a result.
The most popular broadband speeds over Fibre in New Zealand are 100/20, and Gigabit, referred to as Fibre Max.\
For 100/20, this means that you can get up to 100Mbps download speed, and 20Mbps upload speed (with download speed being much more important for most NZ homes).
For Gigabit, or Fibre Max, it’s possible to get up to 950Mbps download speed, and around 450Mbps upload speed.
There are also other services that are starting to arrive on the market in 2020, referred to as Hyperfibre which can get up to several thousand Mbps – but these do cost much more per month than most people are willing to pay for a broadband connection, and wouldn’t provide much additional benefit for the vast majority of customers at this stage.
Who can get Fibre broadband?
As of October 2020 the vast majority of properties in New Zealand can get connected to Fibre, with more of the remaining addresses having fibre infrastructure installed outside their boundary every day.
The UFB rollout across New Zealand is actually making faster progress than originally planned for, and the uptake is fantastic as more and more Kiwis see the benefits of upgrading to Fibre.
The rollout is expected to be completed to even remote rural townships by 2022 - aiming to provide access to ultra fast connectivity for 87% of the population by that time.