Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

NZ telcos and internet access world class

New Zealand's roll out of the fibre network has made it the "poster child" of the global telecommunications  sector. Photo / file
New Zealand's roll out of the fibre network has made it the "poster child" of the global telecommunications sector. Photo / file

• $1.7 billion invested in telecommunications each year
• 250 per cent increase in number of fibre connections in the year to September 2015
• Mobile pricing dropped 46 per cent from 2012 - 2014
• Mobile data volume will increase seven-fold by 2019

New Zealand has a telecommunications sector outperforming its OECD counterparts in a number of ways according to a report released by an industry lobby group.

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) said in its report $1.7 billion was invested in the sector a year, proportionately one of the highest levels in the OECD.

The uptake of fibre has increased 250 per cent in the year to September 2015, and is the highest uptake of fibre connections in the developed world.

TCF chief executive Geoff Thorn said mobile business and innovation was growing with New Zealanders having access to one of the fastest download speeds in the world.

"Telecommunications has become a power player in New Zealand's infrastructure," he said.

Thorn said the sector provided services that were competitive in price compared to other countries. Consumers now expected fast, ubiquitous connectivity in the same way they expected running water and power, he said.

The report said households costs for telecommunications services are declining and New Zealand's ICT sector contributed more to the GDP than any other OECD country.

Russell Stanners, chief executive of Vodafone, said the telecommunications sector should be proud of what the report said.

"We need to be on the front-foot and be proud as an industry and a country of what we're doing here... We've got a good story happening."

The roll out of the fibre network in New Zealand was setting a good example worldwide for how to connect a country, Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said.

Stanners said the fibre rollout made New Zealand "the poster child" of the global sector.

Chorus' Ratcliffe accepted the industry was struggling to meet demand for requests to connect to the network.

"Undoubtedly we don't have enough technician resources to meet the work coming through," he said. "We need twice as many technicians as we've currently got."

Ratcliffe said customers needed to understand that connecting to the fibre network was a construction job and compared it to renovating a bathroom.

"You don't expect to have a new room done over a weekend," he said.

What the future holds

The government and telecommunications sector aim for 99 per cent of people to have access to ultra-fast broadband at peak speeds of 50 megabits per second.

The TCF report said New Zealand's fixed internet traffic would double and mobile data volume would grow seven-fold by 2019.

The average New Zealand home now consumes almost twice as much data on average per day as they did a year ago, the report said.

On the horizon would be the roll out of a 5G network.

Simon Moutter, managing director of Spark, said New Zealand as a country needed to be planning how it could use the 5G network to step up its role in the global business landscape.

"5G is just another step to keep us in a global game. The real issue is what is the country going to do with this stuff to be more globally competitive."

Moutter said it was up to the telecommunication industry to open up a pathway for innovation.

"It's allowing our capabilities to be used by third parties."

The report comes the day after the Commerce Commission said consumers can be more confident about the fairness of standard contracts with telco companies after persuading them to change certain terms it thought were unfair. The terms related to limitation of liability, unilateral variation of services, contracting out of consequential loss, and responsibility for unauthorised charges

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment is currently reviewing the telco legislation which looks set to align regulated prices for fibre and copper-based services, using a similar framework to the electricity sector.

Read the full report here

- with BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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