What the upgrade to COVID-19 Stage 4 means for NZ Broadband

What the upgrade to COVID-19 Stage 4 means for NZ Broadband
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As we head into a Stage 4 and Lockdown in a bid to combat COVID-19, you may be wondering what this means for broadband services. Especially as broadband is more important than ever as we work from home, and spend our days at home.

Fortunately the services that provide our broadband are essential services. That means that maintaining capacity on the broadband network is treated as a priority, and you can still upgrade to faster broadband if you need to.

Telecommunications and Internet Providers are Essential services

Telecommunication services and internet providers are both classed as essential services. This means that lines companies like Chorus and Enable will continue to operate and complete installations. This means maintenance works will continue to happen and installations of upgraded fibre connections will continue as usual – with some changes to ensure employees and customers remain safe for home visits.

Internet providers are largely operating on a business-as-usual basis, with most call centre and staff working from home. Find out how to stay up-to-date on developments from your broadband provider here.

Anecdotally Broadband Compare customers are telling us their broadband providers are still operating as usual, but with slightly different processes, and longer waiting times (in some cases) as providers adjust to this new way of working.   

Can the broadband network cope with increased demand during the lockdown?

Telecomms Experts are largely reassuring, saying that the broadband network has the capacity to cope with increases in demand.

Chorus say that the capacity of their broadband infrastructure is robust and while daytime data consumption on their network continues to grow, it is still much lower than the usual 9pm busy internet hour. Significant capacity is also available above and beyond the peak throughput ever recorded on our network.

Speaking with Stuff Telecommunications Forum chief executive Geoff Thorn said that while broadband usage increased on Monday the 23rd March, that was within manageable volumes.

"New Zealand's network is designed to deal with loading well beyond the internet-traffic peak loads currently experienced in the evenings," he said. "We are expecting to see the load shifting and spreading out to be more distributed across the day, which is when there is significant spare capacity."

Telcos weren't anticipating overall day-time network traffic would exceed the traditional evening peak load even if people working or learning from home did intersperse that with watching video during the day, he said. 

That expectation was supported by the recent experiences of other countries that were in mass isolation as a result of the coronavirus, he said. But he asked Kiwis to consider not streaming mobile video and doing online gaming and downloads "all at once".

Can I still change broadband plans or upgrade to fibre during the lockdown?

Yes you can! As essential services, internet providers and lines companies like Chorus and Enable are continuing to operate. And installation services are still available, with controls in place to make installation visits safer.

As part of the supply chain that supports telecommunications and internet industries Broadband Compare continue to operate, with all of our staff set up to work from home.

At this time people are probably putting more demand than usual on their home broadband – so if your broadband isn’t keeping up, please compare plans and choose a plan better suited to your needs.

And during these uncertain times, many people are looking for ways to reduce their spending – this is a great time to compare plans and make sure you’re not paying more than you should for broadband.

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