June 25th, 2012
When fast fibre came to Whangarei, the decision to sign up wasn’t hard for local business Kensington Hospital Ltd. Staff at the private hospital and medical centre were frustrated with a sometimes unreliable broadband connection. And with large files (x-rays, medical photos, scans etc) needing to move back and forward from the local district health board, fast speeds were becoming essential. Finance Manager Karen Duncan says since the move to Ultra-Fast Broadband, surgeons have been able to look at a patient’s x-rays from the operating theatre, test results come through quickly, and a GP can, within a normal consultancy timeframe, call up a specialist website to show a patient pictures of their condition.
Just as important for the company’s main bean counter, there have been significant cost savings in moving the company’s whole telecommunications package (phones included) to Whangarei-based ISP Ultracom.
“We are really pleased. We have gone with a new and exciting technology and a local business willing to go the extra mile. We are delighted.”
Ultracom General Manager Jock Harris says the company had been offering fast broadband packages in the town for two years via Northpower’s connections, and so was well-placed to take on Ultra-Fast Broadband when it came to town. Business packages start at $99 a month for one phone line and fast broadband, and an extra $10 a month will give customers either another line or an extra 10Mbit/s in upload or download speed.
Jock says Ultracom now has 300 customers taking UFB, with a mixture of business and residential. Uptake has been good from SMEs, he says, whether it be a builder or architect wanting to be able to download plans, a shop or panel beater needing a fast reliable connection to order stock online and do the banking, or a graphics company sending large files. He says one customer, who used to regularly take two or three days out of her business to travel to Wellington where she was on a government standards committee, now attends the meetings mostly by video conference – a huge time saving.
Jock says one of the biggest challenges has been working out solutions to individual connection problems – whether it be fitting in with a building’s alarm set-up, or unravelling a company’s phone configuration to get fast fibre linked up – but he reckons that teething phase is now behind them.
Ultracom’s next target is to get to 1000 connections.
At Northpower Fibre, Chief Executive Darren Mason says the company’s next priority is Whangarei’s central business district. BY the end of June the company will take fibre past another 630 premises, taking the total “doors passed” to around 7,500. That figure will almost double by mid-2013 and the Whangarei network will be complete by June 2014.
Darren says UFB will be transformational for Whangarei.
“Once people are on fibre they realise the benefits of it,” he says. Fibre means improved efficiencies and productivity, and puts people in contact with the rest of the world. “Put simply, fibre allows you to work, live and play from virtually anywhere, anytime.”