NZ Business - - TECH STUFF -

S ince Oc­to­ber 2016 New Zealand’s In­ter­net ser­vice providers have been of­fer­ing gigabit fi­bre broad­band plans. To use one, you need a con­nec­tion to the gov­ern­ment-sup­ported Ul­tra­fast Broad­band fi­bre net­work which now cov­ers roughly half the coun­try. You might also need a faster fi­bre mo­dem than the one you use now. Oth­er­wise, it’s just a mat­ter of sign­ing up and pay­ing the monthly sub­scrip­tion fee.

A gigabit con­nec­tion is a very fast pipe to the In­ter­net and data will come to you about 50 times faster than it can on the best cop­per­based con­nec­tions. You can send data about 100 times faster.

A gigabit con­nec­tion is so fast that there are few busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions that re­quire all the band­width it of­fers. At least for now.

If you were a sci­en­tist search­ing for new sub-atomic par­ti­cles you might think a 1Gbps broad­band plan is a touch on the skimpy side. Like­wise, if you worked for a ma­jor cor­po­ra­tion and needed to crunch real time data from hun­dreds of thou­sands of cus­tomers in a ‘Big Data’ project a gigabit plan might not sat­isfy your needs.

On the other hand, if you ran a TV news pro­gramme tak­ing live video feeds from all over the coun­try and around the world, you’d prob­a­bly get by fine on a gigabit con­nec­tion.

Al­though few ev­ery­day busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions need an In­ter­net con­nec­tion run­ning at one gigabit per sec­ond, a gigabit broad­band plan is still a smart buy for busi­ness own­ers.

Spark’s head of busi­ness mar­ket­ing, Richard Sand­ford, says the fastest broad­band speeds are vi­tal in in­dus­tries where there is col­lab­o­ra­tion. He says you need them if you spend a lot of time up­load­ing and down­load­ing large files.

He be­lieves this is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for com­pa­nies who ser­vice ‘glo­cal’ mar­kets – that is, small com­pa­nies who trade on the world stage. Many small, spe­cial­ist ser­vice com­pa­nies com­pete on a global scale. “If they don’t al­ready, hav­ing un­lim­ited broad­band makes it eas­ier for them to open up to the world. New Zealand is renowned for in­no­va­tion, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a gateway for that,’ says Sand­ford.

New Zealand has many small video pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies who

send ma­te­rial overseas. “They do film­ing and edit­ing, then send huge files to their cus­tomers. This can take hours with slower con­nec­tions; but with gigabit speeds they can do it in min­utes,” he says.


Video con­fer­enc­ing is a use­ful tool when your clients are on the other side of the world. Sand­ford says there is noth­ing more frus­trat­ing than when you’re on a video con­fer­ence to, say, New York and the con­nec­tion sud­denly freezes.

Gigabit broad­band con­nec­tions are most use­ful when cou­pled with an un­lim­ited data plan. Get both in your In­ter­net pack­age and sud­denly there are no con­straints on what you can do on­line. There is no think­ing you can’t do some­thing with the In­ter­net be­cause the line is too busy. And no wor­ry­ing if long video con­fer­enc­ing calls to cus­tomers across the world will see you go over your data al­lowance.

This mat­ters, but it is even more im­por­tant if you use a broad­band con­nec­tion to run your busi­ness from home.

Sand­ford says many busi­ness users, es­pe­cially those work­ing from home, are buy­ing res­i­den­tial broad­band plans. He says that busi­ness users are of­ten look­ing for the con­sumer broad­band ex­pe­ri­ence as well as us­ing it for work.

Prices for res­i­den­tial gigabit broad­band plans with un­lim­ited data start at around $125 a month from no-frills ser­vice providers and go up to around $150.

Spark’s broad­band-only Fi­bre Max plan with un­lim­ited data costs $140. Pay an­other $10 a month and you can have phone call­ing as well. Res­i­den­tial plans in­clude Spark’s Wi-Fi hotspot net­work and email.

Spark’s con­sumer broad­band plans also in­clude the com­pany’s Light­box stream­ing TV ser­vice. This last fea­ture hints at why gigabit res­i­den­tial plans make sense for any­one who does their busi­ness com­put­ing from home.

Sand­ford says stream­ing video is now an im­por­tant part of broad­band cul­ture. Many homes have sev­eral de­vices ca­pa­ble of stream­ing dig­i­tal video and they all share the same con­nec­tion point.

Say you run your busi­ness from a busy, tech-crazy house­hold. You might have a gamer push­ing their Xbox to the limit in one room; two or three fam­ily mem­bers each watch­ing dif­fer­ent stream­ing tele­vi­sion in other rooms. Each of those con­nec­tions is us­ing a lot of band­width, yet you can still jug­gle video team calls to col­leagues while up­dat­ing data­bases and noone misses a beat.

“There’s a clear move to­wards peo­ple blur­ring their busi­ness and non-work lives. With a gigabit con­nec­tion you can en­joy the best of both worlds. Every­one gets a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Sand­ford.

One of the lesser known as­pects of video stream­ing is that ser­vices au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just to give you the best qual­ity im­age. If you have a gigabit plan, every­one will see the best qual­ity pic­tures all the time.


Gigabit plans are the fastest ev­ery­day broad­band plans you can buy. De­spite the name they are rarely a full one gigabit per sec­ond or 1000 Mbps. That’s be­cause there are net­work over­heads.

Sand­ford says Spark tested the tech­nol­ogy and found ac­tual speeds can vary. He says it de­pends on where you are and the routes to your on­line des­ti­na­tion. In prac­tice, you might see real speeds of 920 Mbps on a good day and should gen­er­ally zoom along in the re­gion of 700 to 900 Mbps on a fast fi­bre con­nec­tion.

Don’t worry about this. You won’t no­tice the dif­fer­ence between 1000 Mbps and 700 Mbps in ev­ery­day use. And 700 Mbps is still more than enough for any­one. Even at the low end of the range your con­nec­tion will be fast.

One of the most com­pelling rea­sons to choose a gigabit ac­count has al­most noth­ing to do with tech­nol­ogy. It’s more about sim­ple busi­ness man­age­ment.

Sand­ford says al­most every busi­ness wants to see cost cer­tainty.

“They don’t want sur­prises or bill shock when use goes way over ex­pec­ta­tion or the plan limit. If you have a gigabit plan with un­lim­ited data, then you know that you’ll get the same bill every month.”

The fastest broad­band speeds are vi­tal in in­dus­tries where there is col­lab­o­ra­tion.” – Richard Sand­ford, head of busi­ness mar­ket­ing, Spark.

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