Up to 400 people around the country have been told they will have to wait until someone in their neighbourhood cancels their broadband contract before they can get a connection.

And the wait could be a long one. Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand chief executive Ernie Newman said people don't drop off broadband plans.

"Once you're hooked, you're hooked," Mr Newman said.

He said the situation had improved over the last four years but it is frustrating for those caught out.

But it is not just urban people that are not able to connect.

A further 600 people in rural areas have said they would like broadband but the service is not yet available in their area.

The problem is due to not enough broadband ports in the green Telecom street cabinets.

Shane Shang has moved into a new house in the Manukau City suburb of East Tamaki and has now been waiting over a month for a broadband connection.

He said he has contacted Telecom, Vodafone, Sling Shot and Telstra-Clear but all the companies are reliant on Telecom's infrastructure and all have said he must go on a waiting list.

Mr Shang said the problem should not be happening in the twenty-first century.

"It's unbelievable," Mr Shang said.

He said he has signed up to a mobile broadband plan but at $30 for half a gigabyte it is proving expensive.

Mr Shang said he often goes to the local internet cafe as a cheaper option.

Telecom spokesman Ian Bonnar said most people waiting for broadband are in rural areas or towns and cities that have not been upgraded in the Telecom fibre to node programme.

The programme is costing hundreds of millions of dollars and has so far seen 1200 new cabinets built to service 225,000 customers.

"In some cases, providing more broadband ports is not as simple as putting more broadband equipment in an exchange or cabinet. The extra equipment may not be able to fit in the existing cabinet and the network in an area may need to be reconfigured at considerable cost," Mr Bonnar said.

He said most people have to wait "a few weeks" and are offered deals on mobile broadband or a free dial-up connection if they wait longer than 20 days.

Those in rural areas face an even longer wait.

"Often the business case for upgrading broadband in rural areas is challenging at best which can lead to some longer term waiters," Mr Bonnar said.

He said 899,000 people are accessing broadband through Telecom infrastructure that services all providers.

Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen said there is not much his company can do about it.

"It's not ideal but it is a by-product of the popularity of broadband," Mr Brislen said.

Mr Newman said people should check all the companies out there because not all of them rely on Telecom cabinets and exchanges.

And he said people need to be realistic.

"I don't think you can expect Telecom to put on a service for one customer just for a matter of routine," Mr Newman said.