Ultra-Fast Broadband uptake is now 44 percent across the nation. In Waiuku, Tauranga, Nelson, Hamilton, Dunedin, Whangarei and Blenheim uptake is now above 50 percent. The numbers come from the recent quarterly broadband deployment update published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Communications minister Kris Faafoi says: “This quarter we have added a further 73,649 users able to connect, with 55,513 users choosing to take up a UFB connection. This brings total number of people connected to UFB to 605,345 from a possible 1,373,467." 

Fibre uptake is well above initial expectations. When the UFB project was first planned around a decade ago, government officials expected fibre uptake would reach around 30 percent by 2018. Many industry insiders were more pessimistic at the time. Indeed, the rational for the government to get involved was that the market was in no hurry to invest in a next generation network. 

That was before legitimate, affordable streaming video services like Netflix, Lightbox and Neon appeared. If you look at graphs showing long-term fibre uptake trends you can see clear upward movement as the main streaming businesses began operation. Further impetus has come from Spark’s plan to deliver streaming coverage of next year's Rugby World Cup. Sports fans can also now buy an English Premier League service and Sky’s FanPass.

The UFB project has been extended, in part because of the enthusiastic uptake in the first areas to be connected. By the time the second phase of UFB completes in 2022 around 87 percent of the population will have access to fibre. 

The deployment update says the UFB project is now 75 percent complete. Seven out of ten New Zealanders are now able to connect to fibre. The total number of people connected to fibre has increased 10 percent since March. 

Faafoi says the aim now is to close the digital divide so all New Zealanders who want an internet connection can have one.