Communications Minister Amy Adams announced last week that the first stage of the roll-out of the ultra-fast broadband network had passed the halfway mark. However, Government figures to March 31 showed about a third of Auckland was able to access ultra-fast broadband with little change since then.
The UFB rollout was launched in 2010 as a key initiative of the National Government, the first stage aiming to enable at least 75 per cent of New Zealanders to access fibre by 2019.
Beehive spokesman Julian Light said a slower roll-out rate in Auckland was due to the scale of the city. Some parts of the city had had access to fibre optic broadband for years, and some would still be waiting near the end of 2019.
In theory, the proportion of high-density housing in Auckland makes roll-outs more viable. But residents in such urban areas can have problems installing UFB.
This month, Adams announced she would clear regulatory barriers to installing UFB for people in multi-unit housing and rights of way - talks were under way between Chorus and the Auckland Council.
"Aucklanders have been strongly represented among people with neighbour consent and resource consent issues," Adams said. "We are hoping [changes to regulations] would speed things up in the second half of the roll-out programme."
Some parts of Auckland might not get UFB near their property for years but were next to areas where it was already available. That created problems trying to market fibre optic broadband as an option, she said.
"I can understand the frustration of people ... in areas not included in the rollout living near the boundaries of areas that do," Adams said.
She said this year's boom in the uptake of subscription-video-on-demand services like Lightbox, Neon and Netflix would increase the demand for UFB.
Higher broadband use is degrading the service from ADSL and VDSL broadband services delivered by copper wire. Some consumers are facing buffering when using two or more video signals using broadband. The problem will increase as internet TV services take off.
Adams said there had been scepticism about the need for fibre optic broadband when the project was launched, but the Government always believed video services would increase demand and uptake of fibre optic services, which are less susceptible to congestion and degradation of signals.
"This is something we saw coming," she said. "Copper has served us well for 100 years but it is very quickly nearing the end of its life."