Chorus says it has completed an upgrade of its fibre broadband network designed to triple speeds of its 100 megabits per second service at no extra cost to its retail partners.

Residential consumers signed up via retailers to Chorus’s 100Mbps download speed plan could now see up to 300Mbps, with the old 20Mbps upload speed of that plan now able to top 100Mpbs.

The wholesale provider of most of New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband (UFB) network said its “largest-ever performance upgrade” could affect about 600,000 NZ homes and businesses. 

Whether or not all those people benefit is dependent on network performance in their area.

“The retailers didn't need to get in touch with Chorus to confirm their participation and plans,” external communications manager Steve Pettigrew said.

“We know that Vodafone, Spark, NOW Internet, MyRepublic, 2degrees and the Vocus brands are all passing through the performance increase. It appears on most of the retailer websites and a good number of users of Geekzone are posting speedtests showing they are getting the increase.”

The writer of this article happens to be on a 100/20Mbps plan with retailer Bigpipe. On Friday morning I checked my broadband speeds using the popular Ookla Speedtest app, registering 276/108Mbps, an improvement very close to the possible 300/100Mbps. 

Bigpipe’s website has also been updated to reflect the new ‘average’ speeds. The change means the company’s ‘starter’ plan now offers the same unlimited speeds as its $10 more expensive ‘expert’ plan.

Businesses on Chorus ‘business evolve’ 100/100Mbps plans could see a boost to 300/300Mbps, and those on ‘small business fibre’ from 100/100Mbps up to 500/500Mbps.

Faster broadband is available, with plans of one gigabit per second (1Gbps) or faster currently accounting for 22% of Chorus connections. 

Long play

It remains to be seen if consumers or businesses will end up paying for the privilege of faster speeds. Though Chorus is not charging retailers more for the network upgrade, there’s nothing stopping retailers upping their costs to consumers in future.

Pettigrew said he believed none of Chorus’s retail partners were charging a higher price for the new service.

He said the performance upgrades took three weeks and were completed on Thursday night. 

Chorus announced these changes back in September and has delivered on its promise of upgrades by early December.

It will be keen to keep market share as NZ’s three telcos, Vodafone, Spark, and 2degrees, tempt consumers and businesses alike over to fixed wireless 4G and 5G plans at increasingly competitive prices. 

Chorus chief executive JB Rousselot recently estimated telcos’ fixed wireless push had cost Chorus about 6,000 customers.

The company said on Friday the improvements could move NZ into the top ten on Ookla’s global broadband list of median download speeds by country, where Aotearoa is currently 24th, above Australia in 54th and the UK in 50th.