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New Zealand's UFB Programme: What are the Benefits?

Earlier this year the NZ budget showed the government’s aim to expand Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) availability across New Zealand. Soon after this announcement you might’ve noticed bulletins, road works and ‘internet guys’ appearing everywhere. So, here’s the run-down on the UFB programme.

What is New Zealand’s UFB programme?

For several years now, and as connected technology becomes a ubiquitous aspect of our everyday lives, the government has expressed an interest in the national communication infrastructure by way of investing in internet speed and connection developments. Most recently, following the 2015 budget, upwards of $1.5 billion was invested into Ultra-Fast and Rural Broadband initiatives.

UFB is made out of fibre optic cables rather than traditional copper phone lines. Fibre is widely known to increase internet download speeds and in turn provide an enhanced user experience. And now the Ultra-fast broadband programme plans to provide at least 80% of New Zealand homes, public facilities and businesses with access to UFB internet connections.

What are the Benefits of the UFB programme?

Faster Internet for everyone! Once UFB becomes ‘mainstream’ it is promised that connection speeds will increase throughout NZ – whether you’re connecting at home, work or school, you should expect to browse the web more rapidly than ever before.

A Stronger communication infrastructure for businesses: NZ businesses are expected to experience an increase in their trust for the web and in turn overall productivity due to ‘fast, reliable internet’.

Rural Users benefit too: Although many rural areas will not have the means to support fibre cables, rural internet users are not completely left out from benefiting from this initiative. In cases where fibre can’t be supported, broadband with higher peak speeds will be made available.

What’s the catch?

Congestion: As UFB availability rises, so too will user internet habits – and the more people using the same service in excess, at the same time, will likely result in congestion of internet lines. The recent boom in online video streaming providers’ popularity in NZ (such as Netflix, lightbox and quickflix) has already started to show a shift in user internet habits as better connections arrive.

You Mightn’t Personally Benefit Anytime Soon: You may already have UFB and if you don’t, it may take a while. The roll out of this scheme has proposed to take around ten years to complete, with the first six years focused on high priority broadband users. Not to mention many urban centres will already have had access to UFB before the initiative was announced.

The moral here is that although the roll out of UFB promises to bring about many improvements in NZ’s current online infrastructure, it is also important to be aware of the potential implications that may come with it.

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