Hyperfibre is the next generation of Ultra-Fast Broadband. It moves data much faster than the current top-line gigabit per second (1Gbps) service.

In tests, Chorus, which developed Hyperfibre, trialled speeds of up to 8Gbps. For now, its wholesale offerings are a more modest 2Gbps and 4Gbps. That’s more than enough to make a difference for companies handling big files.

One of these companies is Auckland film and video production company Augusto. It started trialling Hyperfibre in December.

Augusto has seen the time taken to download a terabyte of data fall from 12 hours to 18 minutes. As managing director Aimee McCammon says – “that’s the time it takes the film editor to make a coffee and come back.”

“We’ve stopped talking about speed. We now talk about how much time we save. We move heaps of data around. In the old days – the bad old days – we’d send hard drives on planes with people carrying those drives.”

Mariano Segedin, the company’s head of post-production, says it’s all about optimising workflow.

“We design our workflow to work best for us. Being able to move data across pipes rather than physically is much better for scheduling. A day shoot could be a terabyte of data and we might shoot for two days on a high-end commercial – and that’s just the footage. Then there are visual effects sequences we need to send to post-production FX [special effects] houses or overseas. These files can be 10, 20 or even 100s of Gigs. Then they need to send us proofs and then the finals. This back-and-forth happens several times over.”

Segedin says good workflow is critical to the company doing good work. “We try to be as creative as possible for our clients. The inhibitors to that are technology, time, location and a lot of those technical details that get in the way of you doing your job. The more you can remove them, the more you open yourselves up to new clients and to offering a better service.”

Augusto’s wings are still clipped by the fact that New Zealand is part of a select super-fibre club. Only about seven countries currently have Hyperfibre-like services and the US (where Augusto has an office, in New York) isn’t one of them. But Segedin sees having Hyperfibre now as future proofing for when it is more widely available. Augusto has several international clients, including Germany’s Adidas and New York basketball team the Brooklyn Nets. At home it works with Tourism New Zealand.

SYMMETRICAL TECHNOLOGY

Hyperfibre uses the XGS-Pon technology. This is a data network standard that allows users to send data over the internet at speeds of up to 10Gbps. Right now, 8Gbps is more realistic.

As well as being fast, the technology is symmetrical. This means upload and download speeds are the same. It is, in effect, next generation Ultra-Fast Broadband.

Orcon is the first telecoms retailer to sell Hyperfibre. Its 4Gbps service costs $200 a month. Installation is simple, says Chorus. The technology uses the UFB network already serving many New Zealand homes and businesses. All that’s needed is for a technician to install a new generation ONT (Optical Network Terminal). For more on this see page 28.

HYPERFIBRE ROLL OUT

Hyperfibre was first run out to Queenstown, in February, and then Wellington, in March. Chorus will gradually roll it out to the rest of country over the coming months. The roll out should be complete in September. Some Auckland companies with heavy file transportation needs – like Augusto – have been trialling the technology since December.

Queenstown and some Wellington suburbs got Hyperfibre first because they have the greatest need. Many films are shot in Queenstown, including The Lord of the Rings. Jane Campion’s latest, a Netflix Western drama – The Power of the Dog – is being partly filmed there now.

Wellington suburb Miramar got Hyperfibre early, in March. It is home to Weta Workshop, which helped create The Lord of the Rings movies. More recently, it worked on the new-style Thunderbirds Are Go television series.

Chorus’ network strategy manager, Kurt Rodgers, sees several industries needing super-fast fibre. They range from the creative industries, like Augusto, to software developers, architects and the construction industry.

He cites an Auckland software developer whose speciality is developing factory automation software for the US market. “He works from home and his work generates huge files that he needs to send to his US client,” says Rodgers.

Chorus’ initial focus was on the creative industries because of their need to shift massive video files around. Putting someone on a plane with a hard drive is clearly not a very productive option.

Rodgers sees architects as becoming big users as most now use cloud-based building information management systems.

He describes how “on a big building project there will be a dozen different professions involved, and all the planning and design, and every single thing to do with the building, will be modelled in a software tool held in the cloud.

“A dozen different companies all need to access that same repository of data, so there is only one version of the truth. They work on different aspects of the one project file, everyone from architects, to civil engineers, to quantity surveyors to interior designers. And they need fast access. It’s not good enough any more to put files on discs and courier them around. You’ve got to work in real time.”

Rodgers sees more and more people and businesses getting on board with Hyperfibre and it eventually becoming a mass market service.

“We started building the fibre network 10 years ago and it’s been a fantastic success. A lot of people are now on a 100Mbps plan and gigabit plans are now the fastest growing – up to around 13 percent. Hyperfibre is going to be for high-end users at first, but 10 years ago we thought 100Mbps was.

“Gigabit is going to become entry level, and Hyperfibre will become mass market because digital is becoming embedded in everything people do.”