Telecom, New Zealand's biggest internet retailer, has entered the consumer fibre market and says customers will be able to sign up to its ultra-fast broadband plans from tomorrow.
The company said its UFB services will initially be available to only 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.
Chorus won the lion's share of the Government's ultra-fast broadband contracts in 2011 and is responsible for building the network in Auckland, Rotorua, Nelson, Wellington and a large chunk of the South Island.
Telecom said it is still running trials with the UFB network builders in areas outside Chorus' footprint (Ultrafast Fibre in the Central North Island, Northpower in Whangarei and Enable Networks in Christchurch).
The company, which has around half of the country's broadband customers, is the first of the big internet retailers to offer services on the UFB network.
When asked this morning when it would offer UFB consumer plans, Vodafone - which merged with TelstraClear last year - could give no update on timing.
A spokesperson said it had been running trials since March last year.
Telecom's entry-level plan costs $95 a month and offers download speeds of up to 30 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 10 megabits per second.
The data cap in this plan is 50 gigabytes a month, although Telecom does offer more data in some of its more expensive plans.
Telecom's premium plan for $125 a month offers speeds of 100Mb/s down, 50 Mb/s up and a data cap of 50 GB.
The company said it would not initially be imposing these data caps on new customers.
Landline phone rental services, a modem and installation, are included in these plan, which must be signed up to in a 12 month contract.
Telecom also announced a small-business plan and a plan for schools.
Orcon and Slingshot entered the market in March and September last year.
Orcon offers customers an entry level plan of $75 a month for download speeds of 30Mb/s, upload speeds of 10Mb/s and a data cap of 30 GB.
Its pricier plan of $110 a month comes with speeds of 100Mb/s down and 50 Mb/s up with a data cap of 30 GB.
Slingshot has plans at a similar price point, with a 30Mb/s down and 10Mb/s up service for $72 and more data and higher speeds in its more expensive offerings.
While these companies have been in the market for months, only 2.8 per cent of those able to hook up to ultra-fast broadband had connected at the end of last year.
A statement from Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams last month said that as at 31 December, more than 134,000 households and businesses can connect to the new fibre network.
Between October 1 and the end of last year, 33,000 "end users" had fibre rolled out to them, the statement said.
But of the 134,000 users which can access this faster internet infrastructure, only 3806 or 2.8 per cent had been connected.
Over 1300 of these had connected between the start of October and end of December.
Although these figures may appear low, Adams' statement said they were in line with "government expectations and overseas experiences at this early state of development".