In the past few years, most streets in New Zealand has been dug up and had fibre installed.
The fibre network (also known as ultra-fast broadband) will give Kiwi homes much faster access to the internet without those annoying slowdowns.
But while many homes have had it installed in their street, only about 40 per cent have signed up to have it connected to their homes.
It’s a bit puzzling why the uptake isn’t higher. Why wouldn’t you want faster, more reliable internet for the same price?
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I’m not sure Kiwis know how lucky they are with our fibre network. The rollout has been a success (even though some towns still have a few years to wait) and we’re fortunate to have it.
If you have any doubts, take a look at Australia where they’ve taken longer, spent more, and will end up with a service slower than ours.
Here’s some advice based on my recent experience of getting it installed.
You’ve probably seen workers dig up your street but it still pays to check so visit your internet provider’s website to find out.
If it’s available then the first step is to call your internet provider and ask to switch over, a process that all up will take about a month (though mine only took two weeks) and will involve a couple of house visits and a few phone calls.
There is no cost for installation but you may need to upgrade your router (the device that creates a wifi network in your home) but more on that later.
If you own your own home then you can start the process straight away. However, if you share a driveway you’ll first need to get permission from your neighbours. If you’re renting, you’ll need to get your landlord’s consent.
Your internet provider will then contact one of the companies responsible for laying the fibre cable in New Zealand, such as Chorus (most of New Zealand), Enable (Christchurch) or Ultra Fast Fibre (central North Island).
They’ll then call you and talk you through the process and organise contractors on your behalf.
This is the only part that takes some work from you as you’ll need to home for two separate appointments.
The first will be up to two hours and involves staff inspecting your property and home to see how they’ll connect fibre to the exterior of your house and then into your lounge/kitchen/office or wherever you keep your router.
The contractors have a tricky job. Each home is different and so each requires a different solution.
My inspection took about 90 minutes and the workers took time to explain the options and offer advice.
A week later they came back for the installation which took about four hours.
First, they need to lay a cable from the street to your house. This can involve digging up driveways or lawns and possibly attaching a cable to the sides of your house or garage.
Our house was a little challenging but they came up with a solution that had minimal impact.
They then install a box (optical network terminal) inside your house which connects your home to the fibre network. Your router then plugs into this.
Ideally, you want this to be placed somewhere central in your home so the wi-fi signal reaches everywhere. The contractors will give advice on how best to achieve this.
At our place, they used existing data cables to link the ONT box to a phone port in our upstairs office. It took them a bit longer to install but it was a much better solution for us.
Once the box is in place, the connection is tested and it’s now up to your internet provider to switch you over from standard broadband to fibre.
One tip is to ask your provider at the beginning of the process whether your router is compatible with fibre. You’ll need this in place before the final step.
Your current internet connection stays in place until everything is finished and tested which is handy if you’re working from home.
The last step
Calling your provider and getting fibre switched on should only take a few minutes. My router needed to be configured and the software updated which took about five minutes.
The results depend on your old speed, the new plan you’ve signed up to, your router and your devices.
What fibre does is bring constant, reliable internet speeds to your home. If your old internet was trickling in at about 10 megabits per second (Mbps) and you now have a 100/20 plan (100Mbps download speed and 20Mbps upload) and use recent devices then you’ll notice a considerable difference.
My speeds increased noticeably but not massively but I expected this as my old speeds were pretty good.
The main reason I got fibre installed was for the future. I’d like to eventually get gigabit download speeds (1000Mbps) to cope with increased demand and that will make the few hours I had to hang around and wait for contractors worth it.