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Understand Fibre

Understand what fibre is, how to get it, what to consider when ordering fibre, what installation methods there are, what speeds you could get and how to stay connected in a power outage. If you want to order Fibre, read the Set up Fibre guide.

  • Fibre is a fast way to connect your broadband and phone line. It carries information through lightweight fibre optic cables faster than copper cables. It’s the global standard for broadband and landline communications.

  • The New Zealand government is rolling out fibre optic cables around the country. By 2022, 87% of New Zealanders will be able to access Fibre. 
  • Local Fibre Companies (LFC) install Fibre. The five LFCs in NZ are Chorus, North Power, Ultra-Fast Fibre, Enable and UnisonFibre.
  • Use the Address Checker to see if your place can get fibre.
  • To connect to Fibre, a new fibre optic cable needs to get installed between your place and the street.
  • The technician will discuss your options during the first visit.
  • There is no concrete timeframe on how long it takes to have fibre installed. Each installation is unique and there are many factors that impact how long this process will take. Some installations can be completed within a matter of weeks while some more complex jobs can take several months.
  • For the process to get Fibre, see the Set up Fibre help page 

1. Whether to keep your copper line

  • You can run your broadband and home phone over Fibre so you don’t need to keep a copper line.
  • But, if you have a medical alarm or security system running on your landline, you'll need to contact the manufacturer to check if it will work over Fibre.
  • Phones that run on Fibre won't work if there is a power outage.

2. Where cables will go

  • Your new Fibre cable will be run from the Fibre access point in your street to the side of your house or garage.
  • It could be an aerial cable, an underground pipe, surface cabling or another option. Your technician will talk you through this at the first visit.

3. Whether you need integrated wiring

  • Integrated wiring is when your new Fibre cable connects to your existing phone jackpoints. This means you can keep using them.
  • If you have extra phones, medical alarms, a security system or any other equipment that relies on your home phone connection, this could be a good option for you. Let us know you want integrated wiring when you order. That way you won't pay an extra cost later.

4. Which Fibre plan to choose

  • Fibre has different speeds. The higher the number, the higher the speed.
  • There are currently five different Fibre speeds:
    • FibreBasic
    • Fibre 100
    • Fibre 200
    • FibreMAX (up to 1,000Mbps)*
    • Gigatown (up to 1,000Mbps and available to Dunedin customers).
  • You can see the speeds offered at your address by using the address checker when you buy Fibre. Fibre plans
  • You also need to decide if you want to keep a phone line. If you do, it will connect through Fibre. If not, you can buy Naked Broadband.

*Note: It's best to use a wired connection for the best Fibre MAX experience. Although the Fibre MAX plan uses the latest Gigabit technology, older devices, low-spec devices, ethernet cables and internal wiring may not be able to cope with the MAX speed. This can degrade speed performance.If you use WiFi with the Fibre MAX plan you won't be able to reach the optimal speed level.

5. Where to put your equipment

Your technician can discuss where to put the equipment with you, but here is a guide.

  • External Termination Point (ETP): You'll already have this for your copper line. Normally it’s fixed to the outside of your house. The ETP is a small box that will probably be installed in the same place. It’s there to connect your new Fibre cable to the Fibre hub on the road.
  • Optical Network Terminal (ONT): The ONT connects the modem supplied by Spark to your Local Fibre Company. It's like a Fibre middle man in your house. Your modem and Fibre landline will be plugged into it. Choose a place where you'll get the best connection. If you can’t find a spot that works, you might need extra wiring put in, which can cost more. Ensure there are power points nearby, as well as jackpoints if you’ll have a Fibre landline. It’s also helpful to install the ONT close to where you use the Internet. For a lot of people, that’s near a TV or computer. If you have a new build, check with the owner or property developer if the communications panel has been installed with CAT 5 star wiring. If so, this is the best location for the ONT.
  • Fibre WiFi modem: When you’re ready for your Fibre connection we can courier the Fibre modem to you. This means you'll be ready when the install happens.

6. Whether your security or medical alarm will be compatible with Fibre

  • As mentioned, check with your alarm company to see if your alarms will work. Once connected, you should test them over the new Fibre connection.
  • If you have a St Johns medical alarm that is currently running on your home phone line, please contact St Johns to organise a change to a wireless monitoring system. St John's Medical Alarm Devices
  • If you have any issues with your alarm you should contact your alarm provider.

Here is an overview of the installation methods the Local Fibre Companies can undertake. Every property is different so these options aren't all available for each connection. The technician will discuss the best option for you and your property during the first planning visit.

Aerial cable (overhead line)

  • If you currently get phone and broadband through an aerial cable, the new Fibre cable can be put in the same way. If you're in an Ultra-Fast Fibre area of Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth or Wanganui; and your power lines are overhead, your Fibre line will most likely be installed along side it.

Buried in a grass verge or garden

  • If you’ve got a grass or dirt driveway, the Fibre cable can be buried under that. They'll dig a shallow trench and lay the cable inside. If the trench needs to curve around a tree or path, that’s not a problem.

  • The Fibre installers will restore any surfaces they have disrupted with the same materials so your garden looks the same as it did before.

  • You may need to pay for this option if your current installation is above ground.

Buried cable under a driveway or path

  • If there is a hard surface like concrete from the road side to your property, your LFC may use machinery to drill or dig a trench to bury the new Fibre cabling.

  • If drilling's needed, your installers will drill a temporary hole at each end of your driveway to pull the Fibre cable through.

  • If your driveway needs trenching, installers can cut through the top layer, or make a narrow cut to lay cables.

  • The installers will restore your concrete surfaces. It can be difficult to match the exact colour or texture, but the team will do their best.

Fixed to a fence, driveway, or retaining wall

  • If there's a strong enough surface between your house and the road, your Fibre cable can be attached to it. This surface could be the edge of a driveway, retaining wall or a fence. It’s a good option if you don’t want any digging.

  • The Fibre cable is lightweight, ultaviolet (UV) stable and approximately 7mm in diameter. It's very strong and is very hard to damage.

Non-standard installation

If your installation becomes non-standard, one of our Spark representatives will be in touch and a Quote will be supplied for this additional work- which will need to be approved before the work can commence.

You'll need a non-standard installation if:

  • Your house is more than 200m from the Fibre access point on the street
  • Or if you decide to install your Fibre modem in a different place from the ONT and need extra wiring.

  • If there is difficult physical terrain or difficulty navigating around existing structures at the property such as large concrete walls.

  • You may need extra wiring if you want your ONT in an unusual place. Some people like to put it in a room that’s hidden away. Others like to wire it up to a TV or computer that isn’t so close to where the fibre cable enters the property.

The non-standard installation could include:

  • Extra Fibre cabling

  • Converting an overhead cable to an underground cable.

  • Connecting an ONT to a location that is not easily accessible

Switch from aerial to underground

  • If you’ve got an aerial line but want Fibre to go underground, you can place an Overhead to Underground (OHUG) order through Spark. Your LFC does the work and you cover the costs. If it’s easier, the technician can show you where the trench needs to go and you can do the work yourself.

  • While underground work is getting done, your Fibre order will be on hold. Once done, your technician will come back to finish the installation.

Upload and download speeds depend on many factors, including:

  • New Zealand and overseas networks
  • Your modem
  • Your computer's technology
  • Internal home wiring
  • Environmental factors

Considerations to improve your Fibre speed

  • Fibre's shared with other properties in the Local Fibre Company's network and Spark's network. Speeds can vary depending on the number of people on the network at the same time
  • Other wireless devices, such as mobile phones or your neighbours' WiFi, can affect your WiFi connection.
  • The speed capacity of your equipment may limit your speed. For example an older WiFi adapter may not be as fast.
  • Other hardware and software equipment can also limit bandwidth processing
  • It's best to connect devices directly to your modem with high-speed Ethernet wiring. This offers a more reliable connection and faster speeds than WiFi.

Solve broadband speed issues

  • Fibre broadband and landline services will not work without power, including emergency services (111)
  • If it's important for you to stay connected during a power outage, we recommend the use of a mobile phone and/or purchasing a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) or generator
  • Check out these suppliers whose battery back-up systems are designed to work with Fibre devices:

If you are experiencing an outage, rather than a power cut, check out the Connection Promise service.