Improved digital connectivity continuing to grow

Crown Infrastructure Partners

27 May 2021

Media Statement

Improved digital connectivity continuing to grow

The latest Broadband Quarterly Connectivity Update to March 2021 shows the continued demand for connectivity in Aotearoa, enabled by the successful deployment of infrastructure by Crown Infrastructure Partners’ (CIP) partners across the connectivity programmes.

Households and businesses across the country are continuing to connect to Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) at pace, with uptake at 64% overall. Whatawhata remains at the top position for uptake with 92%. Morrinsville and Horotiu are at 88% uptake, and Te Kauwhata is close behind with 82%. UFB availability continues to expand with 84% of the population in over 280 UFB towns and cities now with UFB available.

The average speed of UFB services is now 253 Mbps, with 17% of connections using gigabit1 UFB services.

“It’s fantastic to see smaller towns and cities embracing UFB and connecting to this service,” said Graham Mitchell, CEO of CIP. “This level of uptake supports the Government’s vision for such a transformational broadband network in a world where high speed broadband connections are becoming essential, especially in COVID-19 times.”

“Households and businesses are continuing to move to the fastest UFB plans that they can. Gigabit connections are continuing to grow, with 186,528 households and businesses now on a gigabit connection” said Mr Mitchell. “Over 12,000 additional households and businesses chose a gigabit connection this quarter”.

There is more strong progress for rural New Zealand; with 37 new mobile towers live in the quarter lifting the total towers built across rural New Zealand to 233, as well as 6 mobile towers upgraded. This increased mobile coverage combined with Wireless ISP (WISP) coverage improved broadband to an additional 3,187 homes and businesses in the quarter. This has been possible due to the work of the RBI2 programme partners; the 17 wireless ISPs (WISPs) working around the country and the Rural Connectivity Group.

“62,626 rural homes and businesses now have access to improved broadband – that’s 74% of rural homes and businesses in scope for the programme that are now able to connect. Having 233 mobile towers live across rural Aoteroa is a remarkable achievement,” said Mr. Mitchell.

There are now 836km of State Highways with additional mobile coverage under the Mobile Black Spots Fund (MBSF) programme, and 58 tourism sites with improved coverage. There is now coverage on 59% of black spots on some of New Zealand’s most remote State Highways.

The March quarter also saw 63 kilometres of fibre deployed on the State Highway 6 fibre link the Fox Glacier township to Lake Hawea, bringing the total to 170km fibre link will create connectivity resilience in the South Island, by providing an alternative route to existing networks and provide fibre connectivity to the 19 of mobile towers being built along State Highway 6. It will also mean the Haast township will get access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB).

The Marae Digital Connectivity programme has now connected 420 marae around the country to broadband. Demand continues to be very strong, with an additional 46 connected in the quarter, and there are now 384 marae with digital equipment installed.

“Marae are providing important digital hubs to local hapu and whanau and are assisting in further bridging the digital divide by providing connectivity for those whanau who can’t afford broadband.” said Mr Mitchell.

When work on RBI2 and MBSF is completed by 2023, and combined with completion of the UFB roll-out and existing broadband networks, New Zealand will have broadband coverage to 99.8 per cent of the population.

The Quarterly Connectivity Report is released by CIP and can be found at:

The report provides information on the progress of:

  • Ultra-Fast Broadband roll-out;
  • the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two and Mobile Black Spots Fund programme;
  • the rural capacity upgrades programme;
  • the West Coast and Southland fibre links programme; and
  • the Provincial Growth Fund Marae Digital Connectivity programme

1 The ‘gigabit service’ is a UFB broadband Ethernet service that provides speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second download and 500 megabit per second upload on the wholesale UFB network.


  • At the end of the quarter, the Rural Broadband Initiative phase two (RBI2) has made improved broadband available to 62,626 rural households and businesses, which is 74 per cent of the overall target.
  • Under the Mobile Black Spot Fund Programme (MBSF), mobile coverage is being deployed to:
    • State Highway ‘blackspots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage, to support public safety in high traffic areas where there are high incident rates. 836 kilometres of mobile coverage have been deployed on State Highway ‘blackspots’; and
    • tourism locations around New Zealand where there is currently no mobile coverage, to support tourism and economic growth. 58 tourism sites have new mobile coverage.
  • WISPs are the 17 ‘wireless internet service providers’ who have partnered with Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to deliver the RBI2 programme, along with the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) who has contracted to deliver RBI2 and MBSF. RCG is a joint venture of the three mobile network operators, deploying mobile towers for RBI2/MBSF.
  • The rural capacity upgrades programme is upgrading mobile towers deployed under the first Rural Broadband Initiative which are now experiencing congestion with 28 completed to date (see
  • The West Coast and Southland fibre links programme is deploying two fibre links – one from Fox to Hawea, and another from Te Anau to Milford Sound 170km completed to date (see
  • The Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) programme is the broadband programme deploying fibre-to- premises to 87 per cent of the population by 2022 (including private fibre). At the end of the quarter, UFB is available to 84 per cent of the population; with UFB connectivity completed to 281 towns and cities.
    • National uptake of UFB is 64 per cent, which is much higher than original forecasts.
  • UFB partners are the four companies contracted to CIP to deploy the UFB network: Chorus, Ultrafast Fibre, Northpower and Enable.
  • The Marae Digital Connectivity programme enables marae (and regional digital hubs) to receive a grant-funded broadband connection and associated hardware to enable use of the connection, creating marae ‘digital hubs’ that support communities to undertake economic activity and enhance their digital capability. The programme was expanded last quarter to include urban Marae in Auckland, greater Wellington and Christchurch. The programme now includes all eligible marae nationwide.
  • The ‘gigabit service’ is a UFB broadband Ethernet service that provides speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second download and 500 megabit per second upload on the wholesale UFB network. It is important to note that technical constraints mean the retail service will deliver close to a full gigabit to end customers, as some of the bandwidth is required for internet overheads and address headers for the end service.

More information can be found at CIP’s website: