Free UFB Q&A

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After Amy Adams confirmed a deal for free non-standard residential connections to the ultra-fast broadband network, check here to see if you qualify.

The Communications and Information Technology Minister announced the agreement yesterday, which provides free residential connections for distances of up to 200 metres per house from the road, until at least the end of 2015.

“Today’s announcement provides certainty for the next three years while we finalise negotiations for the remainder of the build period,” Adams said.

“Given the enormous benefits and the wide range of services UFB will offer, we want switching to fibre to be as simple as possible.

“While the provision of free connections was already in place for the vast majority of homes, the uncertainty for those classed as non-standard was creating some concern for retail service providers and the public.

“In negotiating with the UFB partners to achieve this outcome, we had to be mindful of ensuring a fair balance of equity between homeowners and getting the best use of public funds.

“In reaching the final balance, it is my view, that for the largest of properties where the connection length exceeds 200 metres, it is appropriate those property owners contribute towards any additional cost.

“Faster broadband is an important part of our wider infrastructure programme which the government is setting out today in its Building Infrastructure report and I want to congratulate the Government’s UFB partners for their commitment to a fibre future for New Zealand.”

Question and Answers:

Who qualifies for free connections?

The government and Crown Fibre Holdings have reached agreement with UFB partners Chorus, Enable and Northpower that provides an allowance of 200 metres per house until at least the end of 2015.

Ultra-Fast Fibre, which operates in the central North Island, has already undertaken to provide free residential connections until 2019. It is the government’s intention to work towards residential connections being free with the other UFB partners until the end of 2019, when the network build finishes.

Estimates suggest that only about 0.3 per cent of UFB residential premises fall into the category of having a connection longer than 200 metres.

What was the previous agreement?

Northpower and Enable were only required to fund installations for residential customers that involved distances of up to 30 metres for buried fibre, 60 metres for aerial and 100 metres for approved conduit or open trench.

Chorus was only required to fund up to 15 metres buried fibre, 30 metres aerial, and 100 metres approved conduit or open trench. Any home owner with installations over longer distances could have been required to pay some contribution for the extra distance.

What about people who live in apartments?

Under the package, fibre connections are also free for people who live in a multi-unit complex which is three storeys or less.

For multi-unit complexes that are more than three storeys, the UFB partners have already agreed to fund the first $1000 of installation costs per tenancy under their existing wholesale agreements with retail service providers.

What about private roads or rights of way?

The 200 metre limit for free installation will be applied on a pro rata basis for residences with shared access. For example, three houses sharing a right of way would have up to 600 metres of installation length free.

What level of reinstatement must UFB installers meet when connecting homes?

Partners will reinstate all services on a “like to like” basis. This means they will use concrete where concrete was used, grass where grass was used, and asphalt where asphalt was used. They do not guarantee to match surface finish, and reinstatement will be limited to where the trench is dug.

What consents are needed for connections to homes in a right of way, or private road, or gated community?

Before UFB can be deployed down a right of way, private road, or within a gated community, all of the property owners must provide written consent.

Will the $20 million from Chorus be enough to last until the end of 2015?

The 31 December 2015 timeframe is based on a 38 per cent uptake rate by residential users. This uptake rate is high for the first few years of the build of a new fibre network.

By way of international comparison, uptake for Verizon in the United States is at 37 per cent after six-and-a-half years and in Singapore uptake is 18 per cent after three-and-a-half years.

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