Ultrafast Fibre’s Response to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – find out what you need to know here


NEW ZEALAND IS NOW AT ALERT LEVEL 4 FROM 23:59 ON WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH 2020.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has confirmed Ultrafast Fibre Limited (UFF) as a Lifeline Utility is identified as an essential business to remain open throughout COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown period. We would like to reassure our customers that we and our subcontracted Service Partners – Broadspectrum (‘BRS’) and Civtec – are continuing to operate safely and have adequate protocols in place to manage the risk to our community and themselves during this challenging time.

Our Business Continuity Plan is in full operation and we continue to operate our business with robust change restrictions and enhanced health and safety protocols in place.

Essential connection and assurance work will continue to be completed to meet the needs of our community, where we can do so safely. We also acknowledge that as we progress through the lockdown period that we may where necessary update the approach.

To support the prioritisation of essential business activity, we have enforced restrictions and ceased non-essential works, as follows:

ACTIVITIES THAT WILL CONTINUE BUT WITH INCREASED CONTROLS:
MBIE has confirmed that as an essential service, servicing connections with customers does include UFB installations. However, this is subject to the following prioritisation conditions:

  1. Installation for essential services (whether there is an existing connection or not).
  2. Our operations are otherwise limited to where there is no existing connection. The objective of the lockdown is to limit movement as much as possible. Providing a UFB connection where there is an existing broadband connection undermines this objective.

To the extent that it is consistent with the above, the following priority categorisations are to continue and against which each order will be pre-qualified:

  • Residential and Business connections* will only be undertaken where they can be completed safely and will be prioritised as follows:
  1. Customer is a provider of an essential service, or provides support to an essential services entity, and requires a new connection in order to deliver these services.
  2. Customer is a staff member of an essential service business, or a business that provides support to an essential service entity and requires the new connection in order to perform their job.
  3. Customer is a vulnerable user or priority user.
  4. Homes where the Ministry of Education has indicated there is a child needing to learn from home.
  5. Customer does not currently have a fixed line broadband service, or they have essential business requirements not met by an existing broadband service.
  • Customer network fault restoration and assurance, prioritised as per the same 5 categories noted above before all other remaining faults
  • Bitstream plan changes (i.e. speed upgrades)
  • Reactivation of ONT’s that do not require a truck roll, or those that do meet MBIE essential services requirements as detailed above
  • Customer fibre build linked to service provisioning requirements for essential services
  • Essential Layer 2 capacity augmentation
  • RSP handover links and capacity increases that do not require major Co-location infrastructure build
  • Continue with design and quote activities for new jobs and close out jobs where field activities can be deemed complete (e.g. records, billing, UFB handover documentation)
  • Our workforce is adhering to work from home principles rather than keeping offices operating
  • Build and engineering services work to the extent necessary to keep the network operating

*NOTES:

  • Single dwelling Unit connections – any essential services connections will only be undertaken using a one-day install methodology – meaning overland duct (surface mount) so as to avoid potential disruption to other essential utilities and, where the customer prefers it to avoid potential person-to-person contact, the ONT will be installed in the integral garage (both elements must be approved by the customer before install)
  • Right Of Way and Multi Dwelling Unit work – will only be completed where the build is deemed essential based on the prioritisation mentioned above and only where following overland duct (surface mount) protocols also noted above so as to avoid potential disruption to other essential utilities.

ACTIVITIES THAT HAVE CEASED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE:

  • Connections where the customer’s current broadband connection does not meet their needs due to increased household usage – such as working from home requirements.
  • greenfields developments, including pre-connections for home and businesses under construction
  • network build and extensions (unless specifically required under emergency)
  • third party network relocation requests
  • network grooming activities
  • roadworks plant relocations unless Road Controlling Authority activity is continuing for safety or essential transportation routes.
  • non-essential activity inside customer premises (e.g. move ONT, install jack point or additional ONTs)

Under Alert Level 4, our network is under BLACKOUT from a change management perspective, with the exception of any required emergency works or to assist with other essential services or access for planned capacity management.

ANY changes are reviewed in detail by our Asset Management Change Advisory Board and will be communicated accordingly.

HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELLBEING COMES FIRST

We have implemented the following protocols with our Service Partners to align with the health and safety requirements of Alert Level 4:

  1. we will not compromise anyone’s health, safety or wellbeing
  2. almost all our staff are now stationed and operational from home
  3. at multiple points during each site attendance processes (i.e. before, at arrival and during the site attendance), details are explained to the customer and they are given the option to ask for a deferral if they wish – which we will do
  4. our Service Partner crews have both only put forward their employees who are volunteering to work on connections and faults – which means this capacity is of course fluid and subject to change
  5. pre-screening takes place prior to and then, when on site, before any connection or fault restoration attendance to check for illness or symptoms
  6. customers are advised that each site attendance will be conducted with minimal requirement for close physical contact with the customer – and if any contact is required, it will only ever be at appropriate physical distancing in accordance with guidelines
  7. field force hands will be visibly sanitised in front of the customer (if present)
  8. all surfaces will be sanitised before and after contact as part of the installation / fault restoration activities
  9. we have instructed crews to complete installs with the ONT in the garage if the customer prefers no presence in the home itself and where the service will still operate to acceptable performance levels
  10. we have implemented an alternative ‘sign off’ methodology for the customer, which involves using photo approval instead of pen and tablet (this can be done digitally, post-install)
  11. written evidence of specific checks completed on-site: including, conversations with customers regarding their health status – which must be confirmed and recorded in writing before starting job
  12. to be following the required prevention strategies as outlined by the Ministry of Health, such as physical distancing of 2 metres, the customer to avoid being in the same room, no direct contact with the customer and appropriate hand and equipment sanitisation and hygiene
  13. contractors must provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure the technicians are also trained in the correct use and disposal of this equipment (including, but not limited to, wearing gloves, protective clothing, eye protection, face protection, respiratory protection – as required)
  14. relevant customer information will be recorded (address, name of customer and contact details) for contact tracing purposes ensuring that privacy requirements are also being met
  15. access to relevant medical and first aid services, planned and readily available.
  16. develop specific education and training in prevention measures as well as a standard operating procedure for all activities having the potential for exposure
  17. any exposure incidents are escalated immediately internally and reported to UFF
  18. daily monitoring and evaluation of these protocols

OUR NETWORK

Our network continues to maintain resilience and we are monitoring the network closely.

We are pleased to report that although we have seen a 20% increase in traffic over the last few days, our network has sufficient capacity to support a further significant increase in throughput load through standard business hours.

Health and Safety Escalation Point
A reminder that UFF has established a dedicated Health and Safety Escalation point should any of our customers become aware of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 that our team has recently come in to contact with.
Please contact UFF’s Health, Safety and Wellness Manager, Doug Watson on 021-865354 or [email protected].

Customer Conversation Pre screening
Pre screening calls will occur multiple times before the technician will arrive on site, this is to ensure there has been no changes to the location where the intended installation is to proceed.
UFF technicians will always call the customer directly personally.

FAQ’s

Is Ultrafast Fibre an essential service and will you still be operating?

Yes. Government has confirmed that Ultrafast Fibre is considered an essential service providing key infrastructure in the form of fibre connectivity, delivering communications and internet to New Zealand. We will continue to provide this essential service during Alert Level 4 lockdown but will monitor and adjust where necessary.

Can I still get connected to fibre during the lockdown?

We are following Government advice under Alert Level 4 to ensure that we meet the objectives of the lockdown and minimise travel and interaction as much as possible. We will be able to continue connections for customers in the following categories:

  1. Customer is a provider of an essential service, or provides support to an essential services entity, and requires a new connection in order to deliver these services.
  2. Customer is a staff member of an essential service business, or a business that provides support to an essential service entity and requires the new connection in order to perform their job.
  3. Customer is a vulnerable user or priority user.
  4. Homes where the Ministry of Education has indicated there is a child needing to learn from home.
  5. Customer does not currently have a fixed line broadband service, or they have essential business requirements not met by an existing broadband service.

We appreciate that you may not have fibre at your place and have decided that you want the best broadband available at this time – however, we are explicitly restricted from connecting customers in the following category:

  • Connections where the customer’s current broadband connection does not meet their needs due to increased household usage – such as working from home requirements.

We encourage you to await the end of Alert Level 4 and a return to a level that will allow us to continue these connections. In the meantime in readiness, check fibre is available at your property, please visit our easy to use address checker.

We have ramped up our 1-day install capability for essential services during lockdown and we will continue this once further restrictions are lifted. Even if it means a temporary install using a small overland duct to get you connected pending a full underground or aerial install in due course, we will do our best to get you connected.

I think I already have fibre equipment in my house but it is not connected?

If you think you have a fibre box already installed check your address here

If you do have fibre equipment installed it will display.

Anyone who has a fibre box in their home and wants to reactivate – call your broadband provider immediately and once we receive the order from your broadband supplier and provided all is in place you shouldn’t require a tech to visit and we can have you reactivated the same day!

Why is fibre the best broadband option for me at my place?

Our network is ready to cope with practically any new level of data demand and as expected, Ultrafast’s network is currently witnessing increasing data usage at both peak time and throughout the day as customers increasingly log on from home. We are ready to handle new demand and have loads of additional capacity in our network as of today.

Here is what to look for when choosing a broadband connection:

RELIABILITY – A network that is reliable and consistent, 99.9%+ of the time, is not impacted by weather and has loads of capacity. Inconsistent internet is not something we can deal with in this current climate!

SPEED –Choose a speed plan that best suits how you use the internet, ensure you take into consideration the number of people in the household that will be using the broadband at the same time. Ultra-fast speeds allow for quicker downloads and uploads for a seamless, no buffering streaming experience.

CAPACITY – Most fibre plans are now unlimited…so you’re all set to go with no nasty surprises!

PERFORMANCE – Fibre broadband is unquestionably the best performing access technology for big gaming and streaming. Now you can stream multiple devices and still enjoy a fast connection. Multiple people working and learning from home – no problem!

FUTURE PROOF – Upgrading to Ultrafast Fibre is free* and means that not only is your place all set now, it will also move with the times and grow with your needs! Let fibre broadband support your smart home which could be equipped with lighting, heating or electronic devices controlled remotely by smartphones or computers.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Plus you don’t have to spend more. Get a premium broadband experience for around the same price as copper broadband.

Can I get an upgrade to my current Fibre plan as there will be more people at home?

If you want a speed upgrade, we can do this easily and a site visit is not required to complete this task. This will ensure you are in the best position to work, learn or be entertained online. We recommend you contact your broadband retailer ASAP and we can get this completed for you; turnaround time on this speed upgrade activity is generally same day once we receive the request from your retailer.

I have kids that need broadband at my place to continue learning – can you get me connected as a priority?

We are now triaging all current and incoming orders to identify priorities. We will attempt to prioritise those homes that are currently expressing urgency due to the closure of schools and meet the criteria for connections we can undertake during lockdown:

  1. Customer is a provider of an essential service, or provides support to an essential services entity, and requires a new connection in order to deliver these services.
  2. Customer is a staff member of an essential service business, or a business that provides support to an essential service entity and requires the new connection in order to perform their job.
  3. Customer is a vulnerable user or priority user.
  4. Homes where the Ministry of Education has indicated there is a child needing to learn from home.
  5. Customer does not currently have a fixed line broadband service, or they have essential business requirements not met by an existing broadband service.

What if I can’t pay for my broadband?

While there are some great deals out there that you may be able to take advantage of, we do recognise the challenges on the home finances at this unusual time. The central government is currently reviewing solutions to be able to support those families with school children that may not have the ability to access broadband for financial hardship reasons.

Will I still have a landline with my fibre broadband?

Most broadband internet providers have a solution that will allow your existing telephone to work – we recognise that now is the time to stay connected.

What do I do if my fibre broadband service fails?

First step is to log the fault with your broadband provider where they will carry out initial diagnostics, once this is completed and if it can’t be resolved this will be passed over to UFF. Our fault restoration teams will be prioritising our fault tickets to ensure that the essential services are able to keep running as a priority. We will be in contact if we need to come to your property to carry out repairs and coordinate this directly.

What do I do if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding inflight orders or want to make changes to your current connection then please start with your broadband provider. For any queries relating to new installations where you have been contacted by our installation or faults teams our New Zealand based Service Desk remains fully operational from remote locations and are happy to assist you with your queries. To contact one of our team, phone 0800 FIBRE LTD (0800 342 735).

Stay Safe. Stay Well and Stay Connected.