Building on successful foundations

Digital connectivity progress we have made as a nation since the launch of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme in 2010.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s access to the digital world is enabled by a strong foundation, due to bold investment and a commitment from successive New Zealand governments to ongoing connectivity improvements. Since the launch of the UFB programme, major upgrades of New Zealand’s telecommunications infrastructure have been made, in partnership with private network operators, to lift the standard of New Zealand’s connectivity infrastructure and availability across both urban and rural areas.

Government investment (as allocated to programmes)

FYI Page 9 table

The digital connectivity progress we have made as a nation

Telecommunications sector investing in the future of connectivity

In addition to government investment in connectivity, the telecommunications sector invests approximately $1.6 billion a year in infrastructure. In 2020 New Zealand had the fourth-highest level of telecommunications investment in the OECD, when measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mobile network operators have provided 2G/3G/4G based services and now 5G to around 98% of New Zealand’s population with Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) providing wireless internet coverage to over 70,000 additional New Zealanders in rural areas.

New Zealand has five international submarine cables that connect us to the rest of the world. Upon the completion of the fifth, New Zealand’s international fibre optic cable will have a total capacity of 72 Terabits of data per second (sufficient to screen more than 4.5 million Ultra high-definition 4K videos simultaneously).

Striving for world-class telecommunications infrastructure

Significant investment by the government and private sector over the last decade means we rank well amongst other countries for the standard of our connectivity infrastructure:

  • New Zealand ranked 14th in the OECD for overall average fixed broadband speeds in 2021 (as sourced from Ookla data)
  • New Zealand ranked in the top 8 OECD countries for the percentage of fibre connections of total fixed connections
  • A recent report by the Commerce Commission comparing broadband services between Australia and New Zealand found that we had faster uploads and downloads in our fixed line and fibre plans, and fewer outages.

Our expectations of our connectivity networks are growing as New Zealanders increasingly engage with digital technology in more aspects of their daily lives. Twenty years ago, average download speeds experienced by users were around 250Kbps (sometimes much less in rural areas), a level of service that

today would not support many applications New Zealanders expect to access online. In 2022, 25-50 Mbps is considered a reasonable level of service to support High Definition (HD) video streaming, advances in technology mean that satellite services are able to deliver 100Mbps in remote locations, and fibre plans are available for Gigabit speeds.

With much of the backbone of our connectivity infrastructure in good shape, New Zealand is now in a position to focus on connecting the hardest to reach areas, and to maintain and build on the high standard of connectivity already in place.

Remote and rural New Zealanders are still not always able to access the connectivity they need. That is why we are investing in the next chapter of rural connectivity, to connect the hardest to reach areas. We are creating a $15 million Remote Users Scheme, to extend coverage and support use of innovative connectivity options for New Zealanders in remote and hard to reach areas. This will mean more New Zealanders have access to broadband and voice connectivity that meets their life, work and study needs.

The Government is continuing to work to understand the coverage, capacity and resilience needs of New Zealand’s telecommunications network.

Around $90 million from the COVID Recovery Fund and Budget 2022 has been invested in the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme. This investment is expected to provide better connectivity to approximately 70,000 rural homes and businesses.

Long-term rights to the 3.5 GHz spectrum are also being allocated to support roll-out of 5G wireless technology in New Zealand.

By the numbers - Government connectivity programmes over the last 5 years, as at March 2022

(Source: Crown Infrastructure Partners)

Ultra-Fast Fibre

774,500 households and businesses have taken up fibre connections in the last 5 years

1.8 million+ homes and businesses will be able to access fibre by the end of the UFB programme – 87% of New Zealand’s population

Marae connected to broadband

563 connected

550 with hardware installed

Rural Broadband 2 Initiative

72,674 Rural homes and businesses able to access improved broadband

Mobile Black Spot Fund

984 km of state highways with new mobile coverage

86 Tourist locations with new mobile coverage

Rural Capacity Upgrades

332 new mobile towers built in rural areas

2,253 rural households and businesses with improved capacity broadband

9. Rural general tower on landscape backdrop RCG

Case studies

In this section

Case study: Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) Fibre expanding to small towns and urban fringe

The UFB public-private partnership model has been highly successful for supporting the delivery of fibre networks across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Case study: Targeted solutions in the isolated reaches of ranges

Isolated parts of the country present some of the greatest challenges to providing broadband and mobile coverage.

Case study: Improved connectivity on the Chatham Islands

In December 2021, mobile and broadband services were switched on for the 663 residents of Rēkohu / Wharekauri / Chatham Islands, around 800km from mainland Aotearoa New Zealand.

Case study: Improved connectivity to the West Coast and Southland

In March 2022 the first of 2 regional fibre links in the West Coast and Southland regions was completed.

Case study: Marae Digital Connectivity

In partnership with Crown Infrastructure Partners, Te Puni Kōkiri and Kānoa, the Marae Digital Connectivity Programme is making significant progress to enable marae to receive grant-funded broadband connections and associated hardware.