Work on the Auckland leg of the ultra-fast broadband network may begin as early as October, according to the Government agency overseeing the initiative.
Crown Fibre Holdings, which looks after the Government's $1.35 billion investment in the scheme, said yesterday the deployment of fibre cables in New Zealand's largest city was likely to start in the fourth quarter of this year.
The agency said the scheme could kick off even earlier and strategy director Rohan MacMahon said no official date had been confirmed.
Crown Fibre and Chorus - the company partnering with the Government for the fibre build - were in discussions with local government authorities about the rollout plans, MacMahon said.
Schools, hospitals and businesses are first in line to be hooked up to the fibre cables, which will provide internet speeds of 100 megabits per second.
The Government hopes this stage of the build will be finished by 2015.
Chorus' communications manager, Robin Kelly, said there would be an opportunity for some homes to be connected during this first part of the project.
All urban-zoned homes across the city will have a fibre connection by the end of 2019.
Crown Fibre said details of what areas would get fibre first would be released in the coming weeks.
The deputy chairman of Auckland Council's Economic Forum, Cameron Brewer, said experts were recommending the North Shore and Rodney should get a connection first.
"[The Bureau of Economic Research] identified 12 areas, which are largely in the former North Shore City area and Rodney District, as places of economic priority and places that would benefit the greatest," Brewer said. The council would identify where it would like fibre to go in its 30-year plan, he said.
The draft of the plan is due out next month and will be finalised early next year.
"This is a Government-led and funded rollout and the Government has its own priorities ... but it is keen for us to have some input at a local level, particularly around residential rollout," he said.
Crown Fibre also indicated this week that the Wellington portion of the project would begin in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The fibre rollout has already begun in Whangarei and Hamilton and is due to begin in the next few weeks in Tauranga and Wanganui.
* Build to start as early as October.
* All schools, hospitals and most businesses will have a fibre connection and internet speeds of 100 megabits per second by 2015.
* All residents will be hooked up to the ultra-fast network by the end of 2019.
* Auckland CBD, Newmarket, Grafton, Penrose, Takapuna, Devonport and Whangaparaoa have been identified by economists as areas that would benefit from a priority rollout.