More than 1 million New Zealanders are now within reach of high-speed broadband as Chorus reaches the halfway point in its programme to bring fibre optic cable closer to homes.
The local telecommunications network operator switches on its 1,800th fibre-fed cabinet today, as part of what Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe says is the country’s largest ever initiative to upgrade the local broadband network.
“Bringing broadband equipment closer to people means they can experience faster broadband speeds, so for two years now Chorus has been busy extending the fibre network into neighbourhoods around New Zealand.
“In that time we’ve laid 1,500km of new fibre just for this project and connected 340,000 customers to our fibre-fed cabinets, so things are really humming along,” he said.
Mr Ratcliffe said that by taking fibre closer to homes, Chorus’ work is also creating a springboard for customers to benefit from ongoing advances in broadband technology.
“Service providers are deploying new VDSL2 broadband equipment which can generally double broadband speeds again for customers within about 1km.
“More than 50 percent of customers connected to our cabinets are within 500m and 90 percent are within 1km, so the platform we’re building will help make the most of these advances,” he said.
About 800 people from a range of organisations have been involved in the project across the country. Christchurch manufacturers Shape Technology and Eaton Power Quality Company have played a pivotal role, helping establish a manufacturing production line that produces an average of 25 cabinets a week.
Chorus began its national programme to deploy 3,600 fibre-fed cabinets connected by 2,500km of fibre in Point Chevalier in March 2008 and, combined with the upgrade of broadband equipment in telephone exchanges, aims to enable broadband speeds of 10-20Mbps for 80 percent of New Zealanders by the end of 2011.
As well as taking fibre deeper into suburbs, Chorus’ project is taking fibre to new towns including Te Anau, Akaroa, Gisborne and Westport. Chorus also regularly deploys fibre direct to business premises, as well as homes in new subdivisions. In the last year it added 3,000km of fibre to the wider Telecom network, taking the total amount of fibre in the network to 25,000km.