At the Whangarei NCCG Hui in August 2016, we discussed the performance standards for internet connections. Some important amendments were suggested:
- While UFB remains our “first choice” connection in areas where it is available, it is recognised that this mightn’t be the most suitable for families who are highly mobile; a DSL connection can be moved from premises to premises much more easily and is a better solution for families who are unlikely to stay in the same house for 12 months.
- The internet sign-up form needs to be updated so that it can be used for all programme participants and not just families requesting a connection with 2degrees;
- The performance standard for internet connections should be “within 3 weeks of the first payment being received”.
These changes have now been incorporated into Version 2 of the Performance Standard document.
Good news! 2degrees has agreed to provide temporary DSL connections for CIH families who are expected to have to wait more than 6 weeks for a fibre connection – for a one off fee of $99 (incl GST). We have agreed to pay this fee as part of the internet costs.
So what does this mean for you?
- In areas where UFB connections are available, UFB remains the first choice for CIH families, so you should continue to sign families up for this option.
- If 2degrees receives information from the local fibre company (or from a CIH Coordinator) that there is likely to be a delay of 6 weeks or more (for any reason) with the installation of the fibre connection, then 2degrees will provide a temporary DSL connection.
- Coordinators will need to provide a DSL modem and arrange for any local tech support to commission the service.
- When the fibre is available, 2degrees will courier the fibre modem to the family. Coordinators will then need to arrange for a tech to visit the family to recover the DSL modem and commission the fibre one.
- The 12-month sponsored internet will commence when the temporary DSL service is provided.
- Coordinators will need to monitor progress with these temporary connections (suggest that notes be kept in Google Docs) by keeping in touch with the family and with 2degrees.
I think we have mentioned this before, but a reminder always helps.
Any issues with the physical telephone line in Housing NZ premises must be referred to Housing NZ Service Centre (0800 801 601). They will take responsibility for fixing things. Coordinators may call and explain the problem, but Housing NZ might also require the CIH family (their tenant) to also call and validate the request.
The connection from the street to the house is called the service line. It might be aerial – this is easy to spot – or underground. Either way there will be a termination box on the outside of the house.
If a UFB connection is required, landlord permission is required before the connection can proceed. Housing NZ has processes in place for managing these requests. Ramesh Gupta manages this for Housing NZ. He can be contacted on: email@example.com
On 23 February 2016 Minister Adams announced the first phase of Land Access Reforms, aimed at speeding up UFB connections. Coordinators will be well aware of the challenges in securing landowner approvals for UFB connections to premises along shared driveways or in multi-tenanted buildings. These reforms aim to speed up this process in situations where landlords or other affected parties can’t be contacted or are slow in responding to requests for approvals. MBIE has prepared a very good visual explanation of the new reforms. Well worthwhile taking a look. Even though it is not our responsibility to secure these permissions, if you know how things are supposed to work, you can be much stronger advocates for the families we support.
Tania asks: Does the SNAP UFB modem include a DECT phone? On ultrafast will they have option to run phone line directly with SNAP?
The service SNAP is offering us is a Naked UFB connection without phone service. So no, the service does not include a DECT (VoIP) phone. However, this will be an option for families when they come to the end of their subsidised internet period without having to invest in a new modem/router. The unit being supplied by SNAP (AVM 7360) is capable of delivering phone services, but this is not something we want to get involved with. Phone services bring with them variable charges and this makes things just too complicated. This is no different to the current situation with Naked DSL.
Tania asks: Can we offer this now?
Technically it is available now in the specified UFB regions (except Whangarei, Whakatane and Gisborne). But we do need to update some of our documentation and processes:
- Family internet sign-up form (Di/Briar)
- SNAP sign-up portal (SNAP has indicated they expect to address this during the week of 29 September)
- Google docs (2014-15) pull down menu of internet options has already been updated
Ivan asks: I have a graduation in Tauranga in a couple of weeks. So I should be signing up those who asked for naked onto UFB? Is SNAP ready to take these new sign ups? The Naked BB option is now off the cards of they can get UFB?
If you already have internet connection sign-ups in process, I wouldn’t turn the clock back. Better to start explaining the UFB option during training and getting families to make an explicit choice with an understanding of the additional effort (and possibly time) required for a UFB connection, including landlord approval for families in rented accommodation, LFC installation of fibre, etc. Naked BB is still very much an option and will probably remain the dominant option for some time.
I expect SNAP is ready to start taking UFB sign-ups; I have asked them to update the CiH sign-up portal, so when you see UFB appear, go for it!
Tania asks: If UFB isn’t available at the address do we just revert to a Naked Connection. If so is the Naked connect for 50 Gb as well for the $10 per week?
Yes, Naked DSL is still an option and I expect this will in fact still be the dominant option, as many of our families are not located in the main urban areas, or the UFB roll-out will not have reached their neighbourhood yet. At this stage the 30GB plus unlimited YouTube data cap still applies to DSL connections, but I am seeking clarification from SNAP if they are willing to increase this to match the UFB offer. SNAP expects to respond about this during the week starting 29 September,
Tania asks: “Do we have a process diagram for this including what families have to negotiate with landlords to put fibre connections in? This is easy for single dwelling properties but more difficult for multi dwelling properties.
No we don’t have a process diagram at this stage nor any explanatory literature. But it might be a good idea to collaborate with SNAP to produce a flyer – something that families could give to their landlords, who will probably have little understanding of what UFB is all about.
In the meantime, we do need to update our Internet sign-up form to include the UFB option and if families are in rental accommodation, ask for contact details for their landlord to pass on to SNAP who in turn will pass the information on to the relevant LFC. It is the responsibility of the LFC to negotiate with property owners to provide the fibre connection from the street to the house.
A big concern with UFB connections to date has been the somewhat onerous early termination charges (ETCs) when families move or abandon their connections within the initial 12-month contract period. All fibre providers (local fibre companies) have the ability to charge ETCs under the terms of the Wholesale Services Agreement with Retail Services Providers (RSPs), SNAP in this case. Typically the ETC has been calculated at the full cost of the remaining months of service under the 12 month contract; this means that a family moving after 3 months would be required to pay the remaining 9 months in full.
SNAP has negotiated for this charged to be waived for Computers in Homes families, at least to start with. They can’t guarantee this won’t change in the future, but at least we have a good starting position.
This means we have a more favourable situation for UFB connections than we currently do with DSL connections, where we incur an ETC of $99 (incl GST) when families break their connections during the first 12 months.
SNAP has announced that it will provide UFB internet connections for Computers in Homes families at the same discounted price as Naked DSL, i.e. $60/month (incl GST). This includes a 50GB monthly data cap (an increase of 20GB over the current 30GB for DSL connections. CIH coordinators have raised some implementation questions and I will respond to these here so that everyone is getting the same information.
There will be limitations on availability as the UFB roll-out is still in progress, but it is in the interests of CiH families to get a 21st century internet connection (fibre) wherever possible. You will recall from our visit to the Chorus Lab in Auckland earlier this year that the local fibre company(LFC) – Chorus, Enable, Northpower or Ultrafast Fibre – covers all the costs of installing the fibre connection to the house as well as a termination device called an Optical Network Termination (ONT). For families living in rental accommodation, the landlord will of course need to give permission for the fibre to be installed from the street to the house, but it is the responsibility of the LFC to get this permission. This gets quite complicated in multi-tenanted dwellings but that is not our problem to solve. It might be helpful to start capturing information about accommodation ownership at the time families signup for an internet connection.
One difference with DSL connections is that SNAP will be providing the modem /router at a heavily discounted price ($199 incl GST compared to normal retail of $345 incl GST). While this is a higher cost than we are currently paying the Ark and some other suppliers for modems ($86.25 incl GST), it is a much more robust device and comes as a condition of the SNAP UFB service.
SNAP is currently able to offer the UFB internet service in most towns covered by the UFB rollout. The only exceptions are Whangarei (due 1 December 2014), Taupo and Whakatane (both due January 2015) and Gisborne and Paraparaumu (both to be confirmed). Before requesting a UFB service make sure that families are in one of the urban areas covered by UFB, as shown on the Crown Fibre Holdings website.
Further posts will be made to this blog to address specific issues raised by coordinators.