National announces free UFB connections for ‘virtually’ all NZ households
As National government inaction locks out Realm countries from high-internet connectivity, Communications Minister Amy Adams confirmed National has delivered on its commitment to connect virtually every New Zealand household to the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network – free of charge.
“I want as many New Zealand homes as possible to enjoy the benefits of the Government’s $1.6 billion UFB rollout. Under previous arrangements, almost all non-standard UFB residential connections were free until the end of this year,” says Ms Adams.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to extend that agreement to the end of phase one the UFB build in December 2019 and intend to ensure similar provisions exist in contracts for UFB phase two.
“This means that almost all households who are able to connect to UFB can do so at no charge to them. This increases the accessibility of UFB and allows the Government to fulfil its commitment to make residential UFB connections free,” says Ms Adams.
The agreement forged between Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) and Chorus means Chorus will continue to offer free residential UFB installations for almost every homeowner until the end of the UFB initiative.
The local fibre companies, Northpower, Enable and Ultrafast Fibre, have already agreed to provide free non-standard installations to the end of 2019.
The agreement with Chorus extends an arrangement reached in 2012, which was due to expire at the end of this year, under which it will not charge a wholesale fee to install UFB into stand-alone homes and multi-dwelling units (MDUs) of three floors or less, which are up to 200 metres from the boundary. For MDUs over three floors, Chorus is required to fund the first $1000 per unit before seeking building owner’s contributions. Chorus will continue to charge for business installations.
“The agreement is a pragmatic solution and has been agreed without further funding from CFH,” says Ms Adams.
The Request for Proposals for the phase two UFB extension programme also provides for free residential connections for homes which are up to 200m from the boundary. UFB2 negotiations are underway and announcements can be expected by the end of the year.
Q&AS ON NON-STANDARD INSTALLATIONS
Who qualifies for free residential connections?
Crown Fibre Holdings has extended its existing agreement with Chorus that provides an allowance of 200 metres per house for residential connections until the end of 2019. The local fibre companies Ultra-Fast Fibre, Enable and Northpower had already undertaken to provide free residential connections until 2019.Virtually all households will be able to connect for free, as in practice it’s extremely rare to find a residential home in an urban area set further than 200m away from the boundary.
What was the previous agreement?
Chorus and CFH had been negotiating to extend Chorus’ agreement, which has allowed for residential connections up to 200 metres per house and was valid until the end of this year. This is simply an extension of that. The LFCs had already agreed to cover the cost of non-standard installations.
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 about business connections?
There has been no change. Chorus provides a standard installation and can charge a connection fee, depending on the service being provided.
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.
What is the Government doing to make this process easier?
The Government has introduced Land Access Reforms to reduce delays and frustrations with getting properties connected to UFB. Under Phase One of the changes, a tiered consent regime will provide two new categories of simplified approvals according to the impacts the fibre installation are considered to have on the property. Those outside these two categories will continue to require consent of all affected owners as currently occurs. Phase two of the Land Access Reforms look at additional proposals to help people living in multi-unit complexes connect to UFB.