As New Zealand moves through Stage 4 Lockdown to combat Covid-19, broadband providers are moving swiftly as essential service providers to keep New Zealanders connected. However, not all services are available, and we are expecting more of the country’s broadband network than ever before.
We’ve bought together the latest updates and developments to help you understand what to expect from broadband in NZ.
Stuff compared what the numbers say about life before lockdown and life after lockdown. Chorus says average household usage was 346GB in March – a 40 per cent boost on the previous year. Sky TV movie channels have increased audiences by 168 per cent, with higher viewing numbers during the say, viewing numbers for Sky's children's channel up by almost a third. Streaming service Neon was up by more than 200 per cent. Learn more
Enable announce a hold on wholesale fibre broadband price increases, with free suspension option for greater Christchurch businesses. Christchurch fibre broadband network provider, Enable, has placed a hold on any wholesale fibre broadband price increases until at least 1 October 2020 in order to reduce the risk of Christchurch families facing increased fibre broadband costs during this challenging time.
In addition, Enable has introduced a new service suspension option for support greater Christchurch businesses. Internet service providers can contact Enable to suspend business connections, where a business is not currently able to operate. Enable will waiver termination notice periods and any reconnection fees. Learn more
2Degrees confirms they have signed a contract with the Ministry of Education to connect homes to its national broadband network, as part of the Ministry’s Distance Learning Package.
"The connections we are offering are a combination of fixed broadband and fixed wireless connections. Our national broadband is strong and has capacity, so we’re pleased we’ll be able to connect these students with their teachers and classmates, helping bridge the digital divide and boost their learning. Our New Zealand-based call centre is standing by ready to play its part," said Andrew Fairgray of 2degrees.
Chorus reveal that it now has 105,000 users on 1Gbps connections. For the three months to the end of March, Chorus connected an extra 13,000 premises with fibre. Learn more
Vodafone has switched on additional 4G mobile services in parts of rural New Zealand, which means more New Zealanders can stay connected during the COVID-19 lockdown. The 5 new cell sites in five towns will radically transform access to communication services and will likely assist 539 rural Kiwis during the COVID-19 lockdown. Learn more
Spark, 2degrees, Vodafone and the Rural Connectivity Group have all experienced threats or actual attempts of sabotage of cell towers in recent days, including attempted arson. The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF), the leading industry body, said in a statement that it "strongly condemns wilful damage to New Zealand's mobile networks, which is causing disruption when the industry is responding to increased demand for phone and internet services during the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown". Read more
Enable report that their fibre broadband network is delivering the essential service the 115,000 connected households and businesses need during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lock-down. Enable has seen approximately a 70 percent increase in data usage across its network on some days when compared to what was happening before the lockdown. Interestingly seeing a significant increase in uploaded data from the likes of video conferencing and sharing content online and photos. View full report
Here are some common issues that affect broadband performance that can be easily solved by making changes to your home environment or your network connection.
People have begun using video apps more than ever for socialising, like online happy hours, games nights, and TV watching parties. But with so many different apps available, it can be tough to figure out which fits your particular social habits - here is a guide from Stuff about how to find the right app for you.
The LFC Informer have release further information about how Local Fibre Providers are working with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to help identify the location of families in our areas with school aged children and no broadband connection. The validation of intact fibre connection addresses is almost complete.
Enable, Ultrafast and Northpower are announcing a support package that will see them connect fibre-intact homes on the approved MOE list with up to200/20M fibre. The connection cost will be waived and the LFCs will provide the wholesale broadband service at no cost for a period of six months starting from the earlier of 31 May 2020 and the date of connection (Support Period). Learn more
Vodafone reported that they continued to see significant increases in calls and data on Vodafone networks heading into the second week of level 4 lockdown. Most network traffic remained between 20-100% higher than February levels…with the exception of international roaming with is down 99%.
Vodafone report that their overall network status is green, although they do have some rural cell sites showing full utilisation. Learn more
Chorus have announced an offer to ensure that students are able to access broadband at home. Chorus will provide internet service providers with a free wholesale service to support up to 50,000 homes currently without connectivity.
Under installation priorities – broadband connections will be made available to student households that the Ministry of Education identifies as needing broadband to be installed for educational purposes and where Chorus has intact infrastructure. Chorus will waive the normal monthly wholesale charges for these new broadband services to Chorus’ internet service providers for six months.
Some details of the scheme, and how Chorus will work with internet providers to deliver new connections and pass on savings it still to be determine. Learn more here
Enable have released the following clarification of how connection activities will be prioritised during the level 4 lockdown. The revised prioritisation criteria are:
This means all customer connections where a customer is shifting to fibre from an alternative broadband technology for customers in category 4 will be deferred until the Alert Level is reduced.
Chorus say that traffic on the network appears to have settling into a new range that is well within their network capacity.
Traffic on the network last night reached 2.70Tbps, an increase of about 5% on the Monday evening peak. There was a Fortnite video game update released at 7pm last night which might have accounted for some of the extra traffic.
Today, midday traffic on the network reached 1.72Tbps, an increase of about 3% on the Tuesday midday reading.
Figures released today show peak traffic on the Chorus network last night reached 2.56Tbps, about a 2% drop compared to Sunday evening traffic.
Today the reduction in traffic continued with the midday traffic reaching 1.67Tbps, a 5% drop on the Monday midday reading. The evening peak is about 13% higher than a regular evening on the network prior to COVID-19 lockdown and midday traffic is about 67% higher than normal.
Traffic on the network is well within Chorus’ network capacity.
If you have no existing broadband: if you have no existing broadband connection, let your Internet Provider know when you apply. If you already have broadband installed in your property your broadband provider may be able to activate your connection remotely. If a site-visit is required to installed broadband, your provider will let you know what to expect during the lock-down period.
If you have an existing fibre connection: If you already have fibre installed inside your property, in most cases your broadband provider can remotely activate your services. Currently, in straightforward situations, you can expect to wait 3-5 business days to be connected
New Fibre Installations: In most cases, if you already have an ADSL or VDSL connection, new fibre installations are being delayed until after the Alert Level is downgraded.
New VDSL connections: If VDSL is available at your address, in most cases VDSL can be activated remotely within 3-5 business days.
Stuff report than Vodafone has seen a 40% spike in rural off-peak broadband use in the last three days. This follows their offer on Friday giving rural customers free access to the internet between midnight and 9am.
Last night – the first Friday night in Lockdown more people than ever were online. The Chorus network peaked at 3.03Tbps (Terabits Per Second), which was up 34 per cent from normal usage. It set a new record for the network, surpassing Thursday's peak of 2.84Tbps. The peak wasn’t just due to binge-watching, but also likely due to gamers downloading a Call of Duty upgrade. Learn more
Vodafone says it has "heard the calls from rural customers" and will now offer them the same unlimited data as urban users during the Covid-19 lockdown - but only at off-peak times, defined as midnight to 9am. Learn more
“In interest of the health and safety of our workers and the public, Chorus will be scaling back on non-essential field activity during the Covid-19 alert 4 lockdown. Our key priority will be on addressing faults, connecting properties where no other form of fixed line internet access is available, and connecting properties linked to the delivery of an essential service. Thanks for your understanding and stay safe New Zealand.”
Enable is the fibre broadband network provider for the greater Christchurch area including towns in Waimakariri and Selwyn districts. Enable CEO Steve Fuller says, “ We are fully focused on continuity of service and are actively monitoring our network performance and will prioritise fault repairs during this time…We have plenty of network capacity in place - so we want to reassure customers that our network can handle multiple people using their broadband at the same time.” Learn more
Vodafone report that they believe they have fixed a fault that caused a partial outage of its broadband service on the first day of the coronavirus lockdown.
As New Zealand moves to Stage 4 and we move to lockdown to combat COVID-19, NZ broadband providers are moving swiftly to keep us all connected. Here is an outline of the measures major broadband providers have announced to keep us connected.