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NZ Broadband

The future of the copper network

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January 15, 2020

After the first landline telephones arrived in New Zealand in 1881, a copper phone line network was built across the country, ultimately reaching 98 percent of us where we live and work.

Today, that same network still supports phone calls but also delivers services like VDSL, the fastest form of copper broadband, offering customers reliable, dedicated and congestion-free internet access.

With more than 75% of New Zealand homes and businesses now having access to the newly built fibre network, questions have arisen about what’s going to happen to the copper network.

Well the answer varies slightly depending on where you are.

For those who don't have access to fibre and it's not planned anytime soon (mainly rural areas), you can be assured the copper network will still continue to meet your communication needs for some time yet.

Find out more: Phone and broadband options are changing in some areas

As the owner of New Zealand’s copper network, we remain committed to ensuring it remains well-maintained for these communities and continues to deliver the best possible broadband to those who need it.

For those people where fibre is available or will be soon, it’s worth putting “get fibre” on the longer term to-do list. It's proven as the best performing broadband , is generally free to install and over the next couple of years Chorus, and the wider telecommunications industry, will be looking to retire parts of the copper network in high density areas where fibre's available.

There’ll certainly be no ‘big bang’ or ‘switch off date’ for the copper network like terrestrial TV for example, but will happen gradually on a street by street basis and will only happen if fibre uptake is at a level where it needs to be so people aren't left in the lurch so to speak.

The copper network has served New Zealand's telecommunication needs for over a century and will continue to do so for more yet. At the same time for many people fibre is here and it’s just starting to show what it can do for our digitally connected lives so why not give it a go!

What you need to know

  • 75 percent of New Zealanders can now connect to fibre as of December last year, increasing to 87 percent by December 2022.
  • Where fibre is available more than one in two have already connected, far exceeding forecasts at the start of the fibre build.
  • As more and more of us move to fibre, telco companies are thinking about how they might start phasing out parts of the copper network.
  • Rural areas where fibre is not available today or planned, copper will continue to offer landline and broadband services.
  • Areas where fibre is available there’ll be no ‘switch off’ date for the copper network, instead copper will be phased out gradually in local areas only after everyone has moved to fibre.

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