By Paul McBeth
June 14 (BusinessDesk) - Provincial centres have shown the greatest willingness to adopt ultrafast broadband, with deeper penetration in the likes of Nelson, Tauranga and Hamilton than in the nation's major urban centres.
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's quarterly connectivity update shows Waiuku, in the greater Auckland region, has the highest penetration rate of 62.1 percent, with 2,262 connected households or businesses as at March 31. That's up from a 59.1 percent uptake at the end of December.
Nelson was the second-highest at 61.3 percent, or 16,192 connections, up from 57.9 percent update. Hamilton came in third at 60.3 percent, or 40,472 connections, and Tauranga at 60.1 percent, or 37,057, with both cities reporting a 57.8 percent update at the December.
Chorus is rolling out fibre in Waiuku, Nelson and parts of Tauranga, while Waikato Networks' Ultrafast Fibre is responsible for Hamilton and parts of Tauranga.
"Uptake of this technology is strong, with towns and cities such as Hamilton, Waiuku and Waipu among the top centres for UFB connections," Telecommunications Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement. "The primary sector is increasingly utilising digital technology, so the ability to connect to faster, more reliable broadband can make a huge difference."
The government-sponsored programme aims to put fibre connections within reach of 99.8 percent of the population. With 79 percent built, it is tracking a little ahead of expectations. National uptake was 51.7 percent, or 765,362 households and business, up from 50 percent uptake, or 714,258 users, late last year.
Auckland penetration improved to 57.5 percent from 55.9 percent at the end of December, and Chorus is scheduled to complete its build in the country's biggest city this year. Wellington remains a laggard with an uptake rate of 40.7 percent, compared to 38.8 percent, and Chorus is scheduled to finish the capital's build next year.
Christchurch's penetration was also low at 48 percent at March 31, up from 45.2 percent. Christchurch City Holdings' Enable Networks has completed that build. Uptake on Dunedin's Chorus-built network was 58.3 percent, up from 54 percent in December.
Waikanae, north of Wellington, had the nation's lowest uptake at 1.2 percent, or just two connections. Chorus is scheduled to complete the Kapiti town's build in 2020.
Reefton on the West Coast was the second-lowest at 4 percent, or 26 connections, followed by Katikati in the Bay of Plenty at 6.1 percent, or 131. Uptake in Kerikeri in Northland was 9.4 percent, or 311 connections, and in Putaruru in Waikato uptake was 9.7 percent, or 173.
Chorus has completed the builds in Reefton and Kerikeri. Ultrafast Fibre completed the Putaruru and Katikati rollouts.