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Current as of 02/10/14 02:00PM NZST

Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Content drought remains despite Telecom UFB launch

New Zealand's largest internet retailer is now selling ultra-fast broadband services but a consumer advocate says there is still not enough legal online television and movie content available to encourage people to switch to the fibre network.

Telecom, which has about a 50 per cent share of the broadband market, announced its ultra-fast broadband (UFB) plans yesterday.

It is the first of the big internet players to do so, with smaller companies Slingshot, Orcon and Snap entering the market last year.

Vodafone, which merged with TelstraClear last year, has not yet announced its UFB network plans.

Although Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said he hoped Telecom's entrance would mark a turning point for fibre uptake in New Zealand, he feared this may be stymied by the lack of video content.

"We've got partial access to movies today but it's really television and movies that will drive this thing," he said.

At the end of last year, the Government said only 2.8 per cent of those able to hook up to UFB had connected to the network.

Telecom retail chief executive Chris Quin said the company "would be quick to market" if it landed any partnership with a content provider.

Telecom's entry-level plan costs $95 a month, offering download speeds of up to 30Mb a second, upload speeds of up to 10Mb a second and a data cap of 50GB.

This is more expensive than Orcon and Slingshot's entry-level plans but comes with a higher data cap.

The company is not initially imposing data caps to let customers learn how much they will consume over fibre, Quin said. Customers will eventually be able to pay more for higher caps.

The company also announced plans for small businesses and schools yesterday.

Telecom's UFB plans will initially be available only to customers in areas where Chorus is rolling out its portion of the country's fibre internet network, which will cover 75 per cent of New Zealand by 2020.

Telecom said it was still running trials with the UFB network builders in areas outside Chorus' footprint.

- NZ Herald

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