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Dunedin has the fastest internet speed in the country by a huge margin but city residents are not making the best use of the gigabit speed.
In figures released yesterday by Chorus, Dunedin was way out in front in making the most of winning the Chorus Gigatown competition, having an average connection speed of 265 megabits per second (Mbps).
Rotorua on 72Mbps, Wellington on 70Mbps, Lower Hutt on 68Mbps and Porirua on 68Mbps rounded out the top five places in New Zealand with the fastest broadband on the Chorus network.
Nationwide, the average connection speed on the Chorus network in December was 64Mbps.
Chorus network strategy manager Kurt Rodgers said the big drivers of data growth last year were video and smart devices.
The viewing habits of people had moved online.
"It’s now very mainstream to watch television shows and movies via an app on a smart television or tablet."
Many of 2017’s most popular television shows were online. But it was not just international providers like Netflix who were offering content online, he said.
Domestic broadcasters TVNZ and Three both launched live streaming services in 2017.
Dunedin did not rate among the top 10 centres for highest data use per household, which Chorus put down to the exodus of students from the city.
Dunedin households used an average of 159GB of data in December, up 36% on December 2016. In October, average household use was 170GB and in November, it was 181GB.
Porirua households had the highest average use in December on 202GB. Auckland was next on 200GB followed by Rotorua on 182GB.
Queenstown was sixth and the only South Island centre in the top 10 with 171GB, a 36% increase on December 2016.
Mr Rodgers said smart televisions had become mainstream and no-one needed to be an "IT geek" to watch online television. It was all available from a television remote control.
Smartphones were also increasingly used to watch video and most smartphone usage was through the home Wi-Fi network rather than a mobile network.
Those trends would continue to contribute to strong data use growth through this year and beyond.
Smart home devices would become mainstream this year, enabled by new-generation Wi-Fi mesh systems, smart speakers and personal assistants, he said.
Wi-Fi mesh systems were easy to use and provided a good performance. Based on fifth-generation (5G) Wi-Fi technology, the new home systems would boost speeds throughout the home, removing dead spots and enabling more smart devices to connect to the internet.
In a separate release, Chorus said it lost 23,000 fixed-line connections in the three months ended December, shedding lines at the same pace as the September quarter. Non-broadband copper lines fell by 20,000 following a fall of 17,000 in the September quarter.
Fibre uptake in ultra-fast broadband areas was now at 42%, up from 39% in September.Sixty-four percent of mass market fibre connections were on 100Mbps and 20,000 connections were on gigabit service.
Chorus identified connection losses as one of its biggest challenges last year when Spark New Zealand, its biggest customer, launched a fixed wireless broadband product as an alternative to the traditional copper-based connection, prompting the network operator to promote its fixed-line business more aggressively and limiting the outflow.
Chief executive Kate McKenzie had started encroaching on Spark’s turf, floating the prospect of a shared infrastructure build for the 5G mobile network along the same lines as the government-sponsored ultra-fast broadband fibre network. Chorus was already working on wireless technology in a pilot project with Network For Learning, expanding Wi-Fi access for schools in an effort to bridge a gap between classrooms and homes.
Chorus’ fibre connections now accounted for 31% of broadband connections, rising 34,000 in the December quarter to 362,000, compared with 19% of broadband connections at 231,000 a year earlier. Monthly average data use per connection rose to 174GB from 162GB in the September quarter, with fibre users averaging 250GB a month compared with 141GB on copper.