As businesses look to how they will operate when the country moves out of the Covid-19 Alert Level 4, essential service provider UltraFast Fibre (UFF) is preparing for a surge of demand for new fibre connections when this happens.
In level 4, fibre wholesale companies are limited in how they can offer new fibre connections, and are unable to do any installations requiring any digging to connect non-essential workers in an effort to eliminate unnecessary risk to other essential infrastructure providers such as water or electricity.
In response, UFF pioneered a “Next Day; in the Same Day” rapid connection technique allowing new customers to get fast and safe access to high quality fibre within a day or two of receiving an order. The technique involves deploying a very robust overland cable, and then returning to the premise at a future date to complete the underground installation when alert levels and digging restrictions ease.
In tandem, UFF is preparing for business under Alert Levels 3 and 2, and to be able to seamlessly transition between the levels, anticipating that demand and reliance on digital connectivity will remain above what they were before the arrival of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
For this reason, UFF is urging customers to talk to their providers and place their orders to convert to fibre now. UFF CEO John Hanna says, “While the safety of our customers and technicians will always be our priority and we will work only within the government’s rules, we want to assure many of those who have just experienced lockdown while not on fibre that it is our mission to get you connected as quickly as possible
“We know that fibre broadband is essential to keeping communities, businesses, health and education sectors connected.”
Mr Hanna says connection capacity is not an issue for UFF and the company is able to connect more than 150 new customers per day: “We have plenty of dedicated crews ready to go, all well-drilled in current safety and distancing protocols, and with the appropriate safety gear and clothing available to them.”
Data use across UFF’s network during the lockdown peaked at around 35% above average during that first week, and then settled into a state of around 22% above what would be consumed before the Alert Level system was introduced. In March, more than 30% of new customers opted for a 1 Gigabit connection, the biggest UFF connection currently available to households.
Connecting school children and teachers
UFF has also begun connecting the households of school children living without internet connectivity by switching on the inactive fibre connections up to 1,650 households residing in the area covered by UFF’s network. Working with industry as part of a Ministry of Education initiative, the company has waived its normal wholesale fees for six months for these households, and has offered to do the same for teachers who need better connectivity.
“We are proud to support this government initiative to reconnect these households with a fantastic fibre broadband experience at no cost so that our kids can stay online and connected with teachers and their schoolmates”, Mr Hanna said. “It is a logical and immediate action we can take to help some families in need during this time.”