Chorus is to upgrade the speeds of its popular 100 megabits per second (Mbps) ultra-fast broadband (UFB) service for homes and businesses at no extra cost to its retail partners.

The wholesale provider will triple the 100Mbps download speed to 300Mbps and increase the upload speed by five times from 20Mbps to 100Mbps.

In addition, Chorus said it will boost speeds for organisations on its ‘business evolve’ and ‘small business fibre’ wholesale plans, currently both with 100/100Mbps download and upload speeds, to 300/300Mbps and 500/500Mbps respectively. 

It is expected that residential and business customers, who total about 600,000, will get the upgraded speeds by “early December”, dependent on consultation and implementation with retailers. 

“We recognise that it is now time to shift up a gear again to ensure New Zealanders can take real advantage of the connectivity available to them,” Chorus chief executive JB Rousselot said.

While Chorus will not charge broadband retailers more for the speed increases, there is no price freeze guarantee for New Zealanders, who may see price rises from retailers. 

With much of New Zealand still confined to working from and staying at home as national lockdowns continue, Chorus’s announcement is timed to resonate well with end consumers.

“Our network traffic monitoring is showing that there are homes and businesses on fibre 100/20Mbps who regularly max out their broadband connection,” Rousselot said.

Broadband performance is not solely reliant on speed, with other factors such as latency and capacity coming into play dependent on location, network congestion, and other factors. 

Customers will always welcome speed increases if they are well communicated and implemented. But significant price bumps will not be welcome in a country where it is already estimated 200,000 homes are still without internet, in part due to affordability with NZ having the seventh most expensive entry-level broadband prices in the OECD.

Chorus will be keen to incentivise retailers to promote, and New Zealanders to sign on, to the improved fixed fibre services as telcos Vodafone, Spark, and 2degrees push their fixed wireless 4G and 5G services as broadband alternatives. 

In its earnings announcement last month, Chorus’ net profit after tax was down to $47 million from $52m. Rousselot estimated telcos’ promotion of fixed wireless had cost the UFB provider about 6,000 customers.