Staggering increase in Kiwis' data consumption highlights incredible potential of fibre network

  • 21/11/2022
  • Sponsored by - Chorus
Staggering increase in Kiwis' data consumption highlights incredible potential of fibre network
Photo credit: Getty Images

As everything from business to pleasure and even simple daily chores increasingly take place online, Kiwis are chomping through staggering amounts of data year on year.

Over the last five years the average household data use in New Zealand has increased five fold from around 100GB a month in 2016 to over 500GB a month in 2022.

While the numbers are huge, they’re made up of a hundred everyday moments: morning video calls with colleagues, an episode of Netflix in 4K or a lightning-paced round of multiplayer gaming. 

Even basics like browsing the daily news has become a data-hungry affair, as websites which were previously text based embrace high quality video as a standard, all adding to how much data is needed for the average Kiwi household to go about their day.  

"So we're probably at a point where we thought we would be by 2024 or 2025," explains Chorus Spokesperson Steve Pettigrew, who notes dual turning points in Kiwis’ data use: the 2019 Rugby World Cup making high speed internet for creating that pixel perfect picture a necessity, followed by the pandemic forcing almost our entire lives online for two years.  

"Through the pandemic people realised continuing with social interaction and connection of work needed that kind of high capacity internet. So those two drove a big change and probably brought forward the data requirements that Kiwis need by two or three years."

New Zealand is particularly well placed to make the most of the burgeoning intangible economy through our fibre broadband network, which reaches 87 percent of the country and delivers blistering speeds of up to 8000Mbps on top-tier connections.

And since there was no sign of Kiwis' data usage slowing down, to cope with growth Chorus boosted the speeds of popular connections on the network late last year - by up to five times in some cases.  Steve says it's all part of Chorus' pledge to ensure Kiwis have a seamless experience online.

"Our network monitoring means we also look at the traffic coming from any area around New Zealand and when it gets to something like 60 or 70 percent of capacity, we augment and add to that capacity to make sure that nothing that happens within this network is slowing down users' experience. So that's our commitment and our promise to New Zealanders and we publicly report on that."

And while New Zealand's broadband infrastructure is already helping Kiwis make money, it could soon be helping them save it. As technologies like cloud computing become the standard, workplaces and entrepreneurs could spend less on physical assets in an office, such as expensive computing hardware, and instead outsource that work to data centres overseas. 

Gaming is at the forefront of the cloud computing movement, with services like Microsoft's xCloud meaning all that's needed is a stable internet connection and a screen to seamlessly play the latest games. The days of a bulky console beneath your television could soon be over. "The computing capability is sitting in these large data centres and you're using the fibre connectivity into your home or into your office to drive applications that you're using, giving you greater computing power than you'd otherwise have available, on demand," says Steve.  

Kiwis have always punched above our weight as a nation but these advances will allow us to compete on entirely new economic frontiers. 

"It certainly does open up opportunities and I don't think New Zealand has yet taken full advantage of what possibilities exist for it. I think a lot of the world hasn't caught up with where New Zealand's at in terms of its fibre network."

While it's tempting to think that this pace of progress must soon taper off, that we're approaching 'peak data' (how many more Zoom calls can possibly fit in the day?), New Zealand is actually just at the start of this journey. 

"Copper, the technology that we've used to date for broadband previously, is in its sunset years in terms of what it can do for connectivity going forward. Fibre is at the very beginning of it," says Steve.

Connections like Hyperfibre already provide ultra-fast internet across most of the country but there’s virtually no ceiling on fibre's potential speed. This means New Zealand could be an early adopter of emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality - such as the Metaverse Mark Zuckerberg is spending hundreds of billions to develop or new immersive forms of gaming and cinema that are currently only conceptual.

Of course, not everyone is going to need the fastest of the fast and in an environment of tightening budgets across the board, it makes sense to tailor your broadband to the current situation. However, Steve says with fibre’s flexibility, whether it's a (comparatively) lower speed plan or all the way up to Hyperfibre, it's the best technology available.  

"What do you actually need? If you're a family of five with three teenagers in your home, you have a different requirement to a retired couple who might use the internet less.

"Regardless of what you need, fibre is the right technology if it's available to you. Because it's reliable and resilient, you're always always going to be fine."

To check in on your own usage and ensure your broadband can keep pace with your needs, head on over to Chorus and use their handy calculator, or learn more about what broadband is available in your area or even just the basics of broadband performance.

Article created in partnership with Chorus.