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Ultrafast broadband off to a slow start

Published: 6:27PM Friday June 08, 2012 Source: ONE News

Construction of the $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband network is behind schedule, just under a year into the build.

National promised to get ultrafast broadband into 75% of homes within 10 years and the first fibre was put in the ground last July.

Figures released to ONE News show by April this year Chorus was expected to have laid cable to around 38,000 homes, but had only achieved just over half that amount.

Fibre to schools via the ultrafast network and the separate rural broadband initiative is also struggling. By June 750 schools were supposed to be connected but as of April, only half of that amount had been done.

The opposition says the rollout is floundering.

"It appears to be an ultra slow rollout and the fear is it is going to become a giant white elephant for the Government," says Labour MP Clare Curran.

The former arm of Telecom, Chorus, is laying the lion's share of the fibre, including to homes in Auckland. But unlike other fibre providers, Chorus was slow getting started.

"We're ramping our rollout. We had to start from a standstill&building from one crew in August to 175 today so it's very much a snowball effect," Robin Kelly of Chorus told ONE News.

Industry watchdogs say the delays are a concern, particularly for schools. 
"It's vital that schools are treated as a priority, they are there for a reason, the benefits are very clear in education," TUANZ CEO Paul Brislen told ONE News.

Chorus says delays to some schools were due to the ports strike in Auckland holding up imports of fibre and it's confident it will get the vast majority of schools connected on time.

However the Government says the roll out is a top priority and is adamant it will be done on time.