Chorus is offering to waive wholesale broadband charges for up to 50,000 homes that do not have network access. The move aims to help students now forced to study at home because of Covid–19 pandemic measures.

For six months households identified by the Ministry of Education as needing broadband for educational purposes will get a connection free of any wholesale charges. This only applies where there is suitable Chorus infrastructure.

The plan is to use the best available broadband. That means fibre where it is already installed, VDSL if fibre is not installed and ADSL if that is not available. Because there are restrictions on installing new fibre connections under the Covid–19 lockdown, Chorus says it expects most of the connections will use the copper technologies: VDSL and ADSL.

Ed Hyde, Chorus chief customer officer says: "I am excited to be able to confirm that the Chorus network can be used to provide access to essential tools for learning to students in homes that do not currently have a broadband connection. It is important to get these homes connected as quickly as possible."

Hyde says Chorus will work with internet service providers so that learning can resume from the start of the second school term of the year.

He says; “As a wholesale provider, Chorus can’t deliver the whole solution. We’re now looking to the internet service providers who package up our products for consumers to also support the Ministry of Education, with both financial and operational support.

“Delivering these connections to students in a matter of weeks will present a huge operational challenge for the industry but we know how important this is so we will be working hard to get this done.”

InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter says he is pleased to see Chorus working with ISPs and the government towards increasing digital inclusion during the lockdown. “Affordable internet access for all New Zealanders is vital to maintaining social cohesion, sharing essential information and maintaining work and education.”

Tuanz CEO Craig Young says he expects the free wholesale price to be passed on in full by retail internet companies. He says: “There is a real need for this collaboration we’re seeing to continue, but also to widen across the industry”.