New Zealand carrier says Cu later, copper: we're giving customers a glassing instead

Grit your teeth, Aussie fibre fans, Kiwis are beating us again

While Australia's nbnTM presses ahead with its Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) strategy, Kiwi carrier Spark wants to give up on copper entirely.

Spark is what used to be the remnant of Telecom New Zealand after the incumbent was split at the start of the government's UFB (ultra-fast broadband) strategy, and it's not happy with the quality of the copper provided by the wholesale spin-out, Chorus.

So it's kicking off a trial with fibre infrastructure operator Ultrafast Fibre to see if they can connect “one street a week” to fibre.

Spark complains that it's logging 30,000 faults a month on Chorus copper, and some customers “experience multiple faults within a few months”.

Low-throughput data users can skip the fibre install and switch to wireless broadband, which Spark says is also more reliable than copper. Customers on copper are 50 times as likely to log a fault than on the Spark 4G network, the company reckons.

So the rollout doesn't burn a hole in its balance sheet, CEO Jason Paris says Spark is trialling “new deployment methods that aim to simplify the process of installing fibre in individual homes and improve the efficiency of the roll out of fibre across New Zealand.”

Spark plans to pull glass down one street a week, the announcement states, and customers in an upgrade street will have the chance to nominate which day their install happens.

The lucky 400 first houses in the trial are in the suburbs of the North Island city of Hamilton.

The two companies will use the trial to work out how to scale-up the rollout techniques for the future.

In Australia, nbnTM maintains that the Telstra copper it's taking on for FTTN is up to scratch all the way to gigabit services (although it's only offering VDSL so far, even for its fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) offering). ®

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