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Current as of 05/12/16 07:39PM NZST
Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Fibre demand grows, new tracking system unveiled

Chorus increased broadband connections 0.4 per cent in the March quarter as customers continued to move away from fixed-line services on the copper network to fibre. Photo / File
Chorus increased broadband connections 0.4 per cent in the March quarter as customers continued to move away from fixed-line services on the copper network to fibre. Photo / File

As the demand for fibre connections continues to grow, Chorus has announced a new initiative to make the process for getting it smoother.

Chorus received 15,400 orders for connection last month, 1000 less than in February, but chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said there was no reason to believe the demand for fibre connections were cooling.

That's why the company has introduced a new tracking system so customers can be better informed while they wait for the order to be processed.

The online tracking system is similar to a courier parcel tracking system and is meant to give customers better insight to their fibre connection order as it progresses.

It is due to launch later this month.

Chorus chief executive Mark Ratcliffe said customers are waiting on average 17 working days from the time they request a fibre connection to the time a Chorus technician arrives to begin work.

Ratcliffe said the average time it takes to get fibre installed is 22 working days, but the wait time can vary dramatically.

"A consequence of the runaway success of this project is that we can't hire technicians fast enough in New Zealand to do all the work," he said.

Chorus was halfway through its fibre roll out by the end of the first quarter with building completed for 435,000 premises out of the targeted 830,900. Fibre connections jumped 21 per cent to 112,000 and Chorus said it connected 455 new customers on average per day in March.

In March there were 27,977 fibre construction jobs that were still "work in progress".

"Of the work in progress that we have 60 per cent of that has a date [of installation] scheduled with customers. Thirty per cent of the work in progress is subject to multi-dwelling units and right-of-ways so there's more background work that needs to be done," Ratcliffe said.

The company won the lion's share of the government's programme to build a fibre telecommunications network to 75 per cent of the country, a target which has since been extended to 80 per cent.

Chorus estimates the fibre network will cost between $1.75 billion and $1.8 billion to build, and forecast capital expenditure of between $580 million and $630 million in 2016.

The shares last traded at $3.99, and have increased 2.1 per cent this year.

- with BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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