This month Chorus launched its new Hyperfibre service across most of the country. How fast does it go? And what does it mean for New Zealand’s digital future? The Spinoff spoke to Kurt Rodgers, Chorus network strategist, to find out.
OK, ‘Hyperfibre’. What is it?
Simply put, Hyperfibre is ultra-fast – like, staggeringly fast – fibre internet. We’re hyping it as next-generation, game-changing broadband tech, and, given the sort of speeds we are talking about, that isn’t hyperbole.
So do these new speeds need all new tech then?
Well, yes and no. Hyperfibre is delivered using new XGS-PON technology, but that tech works with the existing fibre systems already in place in New Zealand.
The important part is that the new system uses different light wavelengths to achieve significantly higher speeds than what we’ve been able to get from traditional fibre tech.
Fibre internet is just lasers blinking down thin strands of glass, so Hyperfibre is the same technology, except with even faster blinking.
So how fast is fast?
The average connection in New Zealand tops out at around 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Hyperfibre, however, is capable of delivering speeds up to 4,000 megabits per second. That’s really fast, about 40 times as fast as the average Kiwi connection, so yeah. Really, really fast.
Sounds good on paper, but honestly, I can watch The Sopranos on Neon just fine. Do New Zealanders really need this much speed?
The current technology does actually meet the needs of most people at the moment. But internet usage always trends upwards, and as more and more people shift to working remotely, more applications move to the cloud, and just general connectivity increases, higher speeds can only be a good thing.
And there are already many businesses that would benefit from faster internet speeds.
So for now, is it just the commercial applications that stand to benefit from Hyperfibre?
There are definitely segments in the market that are early adopters and very keen on achieving maximum upload and download speeds.
Small businesses, particularly those on the high-tech/digital/creative side of things, have lots to gain. Companies in media post-production or studios producing 3D games, for example, will be able to transfer huge files in minutes, rather than hours. That’s a massive productivity gain for them.
What about gamers?
Yup, gamers will be happy. Fast, reliable, low latency, and super-consistent internet: what’s not to love if you’re spending all your spare time online?
And the fact is, gamers usually have to share their household connection with other internet users. If you’re in a house with a couple of digital natives, people streaming high-def video, multiple people using cloud applications for work, and multiple gamers using the internet simultaneously, it can start to affect the quality of those connections.
A Hyperfibre connection will let all those people do all those things, all at once. So yes, Hyperfibre will be attractive for gamers, but also for everyone in those households who needs a solid internet connection and for everything to “just work”.
So what does this mean in terms of New Zealand’s internet infrastructure?
That’s the interesting bit. New Zealand already has one of the highest population coverages for fibre in the world, meaning that pretty fantastic broadband is available to nearly everyone in the country already.
Hyperfibre is like the next step up that puts us at the head of the game internationally. While the use-cases are still developing, it’s potentially hugely transformational. Being able to transfer digital content instantly can change the way Kiwi business work.
It’s also important to think about future-proofing. Hyper-connectivity is becoming the norm and demand will continue to grow. Internet speeds never stand still, and what you need today isn’t what you’ll need tomorrow.
So does this mean they’re digging up the roads again?
Happily, there’s no need. The fibre network is already there, so it’s just a case of installing new lasers at the telephone exchange. It’s a very elegant upgrade.
What’s the process for installation at home?
Easier than getting an electrician to put in a new power point. You just need a new Optical Network Terminal box. The whole process can take as little as 10 minutes and it’s all done by a technician who comes to your house.
What options are there?
Hyperfibre comes in two flavours: a highly swift 2,000Mbps, and the extremely brisk 4,000Mbps.
And the cost?
Around $150 per month, and about $180 per month respectively for your Hyperfibre plan, and a one-off fee for the installation.
And it’s available now?
Yes, for about three million New Zealanders anyway. Testing is still under way in Christchurch, with Hyperfibre expected to be live in 2021.