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Internet Service Provider Survey: 2014
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 October 2014

Fibre transforming – from roll-out to uptake

The number of fibre optic Internet connections have continued their rapid growth, with more than three times the connections in 2014 than a year ago. Although still making up only 2 percent of total connections, it has by far the fastest growth rate of all broadband connection types.

In fact, if current growth rates were to continue, fibre connections would exceed digital subscriber line (DSL) connections – currently at just over 1.3 million – within five years.

 Graph, Fibre optic Internet connections, at 30 June 2011 to 2014.

The latest figures still put the number of fibre connections below the 2013 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 16.65 percent of total Internet connections (See OECD Key ICT indicators). However, the increase in uptake is still significant.

In 2012, Crown Fibre, the agency in charge of coordinating the fibre infrastructure roll-out in New Zealand, estimated that fibre was available to just 76,000 premises, with only 5,400 connections being used (Crown Fibre annual report for year ended June 2012). In 2014, fibre was available to 77 percent of businesses, 93 percent of schools, and 32 percent of households that were in scope of the ultra fast broadband (UFB) roll-out (Crown Fibre annual report for year ended June 2014). Uptake of this option has now resulted in 46,000 fibre connections being used across the country.

The growth figures show that more homes and businesses are now choosing to use fibre optic connections.  

Home Internet connections still growing

The number of home Internet connections continue to grow. Residential connections increased 8 percent to 1.6 million connections in 2014, making up 80 percent of all Internet connections.

Graph, Residential and business Internet connections, by data cap range, at 30 June 2014.

Quarterly dwelling and household estimates  showed 1.77 million households at 30 June 2014.  With 1.6 million residential Internet connections supplied by Internet service providers (ISPs), we have 90 connections for every 100 households, compared with 84 for every 100 in 2013. The latest ratio shows a jump of 6 residential connections per 100 households in just one year.

However, figures from the 2013 Census showed the saturation point has not yet been reached. Internet access at home (excluding mobile phones) in March 2013 was 76.8 percent. This proportion suggests a complex residential market, where up to 7 percent of residences had more than one Internet connection.

Just 1 in 5  connections are to businesses or government. While this ratio reflects a 3 percent annual decrease to 386,000 connections in 2014, the change may not be significant, but could  be the result of questionnaire changes providing more accurate data on the 2014 figures.

It should be noted that connections exclude Internet-enabled mobile phones.

Kiwis find Internet in the palm of their hands

Mobile phone Internet connections increased 16 percent from 3.2 million connections in 2013 to 3.7 million in 2014. Due to the large number of devices, apps, and networks available, more people have access to a wider range of goods and services through the Internet while on the go.

 Graph, Mobile phone Internet connections, at 30 June 2011 to 2014.

When comparing mobile Internet use across countries, New Zealand is just above the OECD average for number of mobile subscriptions – 109 per 100 inhabitants for New Zealand compared with 108 per 100 in the OECD (OECD Communications Outlook, 2013). These figures show some people have multiple phones, which may allow them to separate their personal communications from work.

Sky's the limit for more data users

Please note: some information in this section has changed since it was first published. See Revisions and corrections.

Broadband Internet users have moved to higher data caps, and in a number of cases, no cap at all. Just under half of all connections now have either no data cap, or have access to 50 gigabytes (GB) or more per month. Three years ago these types of connections accounted for just 4 percent of all broadband connections.

Connections with no limit on how much data can be used increased 87 percent (from 82,000 in 2013 to 155,000 in 2014), while those with smaller data caps continue to decrease.

Graph, Broadband Internet connections, by data cap, at 30 June 2011 to 2014.

This trend for higher data caps reflects an increase in the amount of total data used. In June 2014, the amount of data used was 53,068 terabytes, compared with 34,651 terabytes in June 2013. This increase alone equals about 4 million high-definition movies. The total amount of data used by businesses and households in the month of June 2014 was the equivalent of 12GB per person (or around 60 hour-long TV episodes).

Graph, Monthly data use, June month 2011 to 2014.

Businesses have also started to increase their data caps. In 2012, only 4 percent of business connections had large data access plans (100GB or more), but this proportion jumped to 30 percent in 2014 – a ten-fold increase. Residential connections on these plans have also increased, though not as dramatically – from 14 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2014.

Several factors may be contributing to these movements. These include the falling costs of broadband plans, businesses using multiple connections, the ability to access bigger data sets, and the ability to do more business online.

Need for speed more satisfied

Download and upload speeds continued to improve. Although over two-thirds of connections are still in the mid-range (8–24 megabits per second (Mbps)) speed category, the proportion of faster speed connections (24+Mbps) has increased from 7 to 16 percent (130,000 connections) since 2013.

The biggest jump is in the 24–50Mbps category, while fibre and other ultra-fast options drove the smaller increases in the 100+Mbps group.  In addition, connections with upload speeds of 10Mbps or greater went up 15 percentage points, and have now surpassed 300,000.

Graph, Broadband Internet connections, by download speeds, at 30 June 2011 to 2014.

For more detailed data from the ISP Survey, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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