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Chorus sees growth in high value gigabit fibre plans

By Paul McBeth

July 17 (BusinessDesk) - Chorus reported a faster increase in more valuable gigabit fibre plans in the June quarter, which it says is driving revenue growth.

The telecommunications network operator added 8,000 1-gigabit-per-second plans in the three months ended June 30, giving it 58,000 1-Gbps connections at $60 a month. Chorus added 43,000 fibre connections in the quarter, taking it to 599,000, up from 433,000 a year earlier.

About 71 percent of mass-market fibre connections are on the 100 megabit per second plans for which it charges $46 a month.

Chorus said it's focused on small business plans, charging more for those that offer enhanced restoration plans in the event of an outage. The firm is also trialling 10 gigabit-capable passive optical networks - a system that lets a single feed service multiple connections - with retailers and has identified some user cases.

The network operator's regulated prices for the transition period between December 2019 and January 2022 range from $25 a month for a voice connection only up to $65 for a 1-gigabit-per-second connection.

It's pitching a $28.80 monthly charge covering access to the fibre between the premise and the splitter - a key point where shared fibres are split into individual fibres that go into each customers' home or office. It would also charge retailers $200 a month to access feeder fibre from each splitter, which can connect up to 16 customers.

The Commerce Commission is currently working on how to set input prices for fibre as it prepares for the new regulatory framework for fibre services. It plans to publish its final decisions in June next year.

Fibre uptake across all providers was almost 52 percent, with more than 765,000 businesses and homes connected to the ultrafast broadband network as at March 31.

The increase in fibre demand helped lift Chorus's total broadband connections by 5,000 to 1.2 million in the June quarter, up from 1.19 million a year earlier. Its copper-based ADSL and VDSL connections fell to 597,000 at the end of June from 754,000 a year earlier.

Chorus completed 50,000 fibre installations in the June quarter, reducing its lead-in time by one day to eight days and shrinking its work in progress to 23,000 from 26,000. The network operator has a fibre uptake of 53 percent, with 1.1 million customers able to connect. Chorus has passed 842,000 premises out of the 1.05 million target.

The shares were unchanged at $5.665 at today's open, and have climbed 17 percent so far this year.


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