Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Hon Kris Faafoi has welcomed a new milestone for the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme, which has reached 44 per cent uptake - far above initial expectations.
"The UFB programme is one of the largest infrastructure programmes in our history," Mr Faafoi says, "with the aim of connecting more New Zealanders to fast broadband.
"This quarter we have added a further 73,649 users able to connect, with 55,513 users choosing to take up a UFB connection. This brings total number of people connected to UFB to 605,345 from a possible 1,373,467.
"When the programme began the initial expectation around uptake was that it would reach 30 per cent by 2018, so it’s very encouraging to see that we are ahead of plan at 44 per cent. Already 70 per cent of New Zealanders have access to UFB and this will increase to 87 per cent by the end of 2022 when the programme is complete."
Mr Faafoi says the aim is to close the digital divide to ensure all New Zealanders who want it have connectivity and to help ICT grow its contribution to GDP.
"Once complete the fibre-to-the-premises UFB network will cover more than 390 cities and towns. This is a huge undertaking that alongside the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative and the Mobile Black Spot Fund will provide more than 99 percent of the population with access to improved broadband by 2022," Mr Faafoi says.
"Being connected has become an essential part of our everyday lives. Customers are connecting on higher speed plans with 91 per cent taking 100Mbps and 10 per cent taking 1Gbps in the last 12 months. These high speeds can make a huge difference, whether for urban schools connecting for educational resources or for businesses across our regions.
"I hope people who would enjoy the benefits do take up the broadband Internet now on their doorstep," Mr Faafoi says, "and to see continued progress so that by 2022 we’ve got access for 87 percent of people with all those who want it using UFB."