Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen: Get UFB installed now

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UFB will add to your property's value and desirability, whether you live there or rent it out. Photo / iStock
UFB will add to your property's value and desirability, whether you live there or rent it out. Photo / iStock

Last week's telco talkfest that all the major providers, Spark, Vodafone, Chorus, Kordia, 2 Degrees, Vector, Vocus and others was really stating the obvious.

That is, people will buy into fast, quality broadband if it's affordable, and available.

It seems that notion wasn't entirely obvious to our telcos and internet providers until recently; they had to, under the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) industry umbrella, commission Sapere Group to say so - here's the infographic.

There's not much interesting in the report which bangs on about how millions and billions can be saved by doing things online (look! cloud computing!), quoting figures and estimates from two to three years' ago.

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We'll use more and more data in different ways, and if all goes to plan, do so over fast-ish broadband connections.

Productivity will go up because... well, what option is there these days? You have to use new tech to stay ahead of the competition, or else.

As a result, the number of fibre-optic broadband connections is up about 250 percent apparently - that's the UFB in other words.

Ignoring that we're starting off from a low base (hardly anyone had residential or small business fibre connections not that long ago), it does show that demand is there and it's taken the telco industry by surprise.

One anonymous Internet provider boss told me that demand is in fact at the projected levels for 2019; government figure released this week say there were 162,000 UFB connections by December last year, an uptake of 18.6 percent.

People want UFB (yeah, it's the Netflix streaming video effect) and it doesn't take much reading between the lines of what TCF said to work out that providers want more money to meet that demand. "Balancing more for less" means "sustainable investment" in networks is required, was the message that telcos and providers wanted out.

Balancing more for less" means "sustainable investment" in networks is required, was the message that telcos and providers wanted out.

The government should play its part, and stay out of the telco industry which "must have the ability to make its own decisions".

Fair enough, perhaps, but the UFB wasn't an industry decision. Business decisions in the telco industry tend to be small and aimed at protecting the status quo when new technology arrives.

For instance, that's why there's a 10 megabit per second speed brake on VDSL2 copper broadband uploads, even though the service can under good circumstances go several times faster. Quicker uploads for the relatively cheap VDSL2 service would've eaten into the market share of more expensive business connections.

It takes something much more dramatic for telcos to spend big, like when Telecom realised it had poured money into the fast-dying CDMA mobile tech and had to scramble to shift to GSM/WCDMA or leave the whole business.

Or, when governments regulate natural monopolies and provide funding for projects deemed to be good for society as a whole, like the UFB.

We'll see if the government comes to the party to further fund its flagship UFB project, but Chorus tells me that the money for non-standard residential installations will run out this year at some point.

Standard residential installations are supposed to be free until end of 2019, under Chorus' contract with Crown Fibre Holdings which oversees the UFB project, but nobody could tell me if that would be true if demand for connections continues to grow.

What that means is that now's the time to put in that order for UFB if you haven't already - lead times are long, over three months currently, and there's a shortage of fibre-optic trained installers in the country.

If you're lucky enough to be in a UFB area, and own a house or a flat, having most of the substantial installation costs for the fast and future-proof broadband service covered makes the whole thing a no-brainer: UFB will add to your property's value and desirability, whether you live there or rent it out.

Don't miss out, you'll regret it.

- NZ Herald

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Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

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