Central North Island fibre company Ultrafast Fibre will waive its monthly wholesale connection charges for families with school-aged children living in homes without broadband connectivity.
The waiver is in place for the next six months and applies to the approximately 1,650 households identified by the Ministry of Education (MOE) as needing internet connectivity for learning, and which already have a fibre Optical Network Terminal (ONT) in the home (the small white plastic ‘box’ required to connect the fibre from outside the house to inside the premise).
This means fees of up to $55/month, normally charged to the internet service provider (ISP), will be waived for these families. This wholesale charge represents around half the cost of a monthly retail plan provided by the ISP.
Under the initiative, UFF is offering the MOE a speed plan the internet service providers wish to deliver up to 200/20 megabits per second.
Fibre for these families can be switched on at any time as their ONTs can be remotely reactivated by UFF, giving them almost instant access to fast, high-quality broadband. Installing new ONTs is largely prohibited under the government’s COVID-19 Alert Level 4 status unless it is in support of those associated with the delivery of essential services.*
UFF will work with MOE and retail service providers which tap into its 3,500km network across a region of 35 towns and cities to switch on fibre connections for the 1,650 eligible families as quickly as possible.
“We are proud to be doing our bit to support the government and remove barriers to learning from home during this unparalleled time of lockdown.” says UFF CEO John Hanna. “We acknowledge it will take a collaborative effort and there are big challenges ahead to get our kids the connectivity they need for their schooling.
“And as a provider of critical infrastructure servicing the 240,000 residents and businesses in the Central North Island region, we are here and we are ready to support the Government and our industry when, where and how we are needed.”
Mr Hanna says the company had made a significant investment in its network ahead of the Rugby World Cup and is confident the network will remain fully operational with plenty of capacity to meet the needs of its customers in the weeks ahead.
Internet use across UFF’s network has increased by an average of 35% since 26 March.
Further relief outlined
UFF will also defer its scheduled annual CPI (Consumer Price Index) price increase for its broadband products until at least 1 October.