Public assured that the internet won't go down during lockdown

By Jessica Tyson

A major increase in internet use around the country, because more people are working from home, has caused concern for potential internet and phone shortages.

Chorus Chief Executive Officer JB Rousselot says the company has seen an increase in internet use since COVID-19 began to impact New Zealand.

“On Friday we saw an increase of about 17 per cent, compared to a normal day.

"Yesterday that grew to almost 40 per cent, and then today we're at 65 percent so the traffic that we see during the day is 65 per cent bigger than what we would have seen normally and that's because people are now working from home.”

Chorus provides wholesale internet infrastructure to major phone and broadbrand providers such as Spark and Vodafone. The company has the broadband infrastructure to accommodate a 350 per cent increase in internet traffic. So far its only reached 65 per cent.

“I want people to be reassured that, as an industry, we’re ready. The networks that are behind all the services that we’re providing, whether its phone or broadband, are really solid ones and we're working really closely as an industry to make sure that people continue to be connected.”

Rousselot reassures people living in rural areas to not feel concerned.

“Regardless of the infrastructure that's providing you with connectivity, it’s going to be capable of handling the increased level of traffic. So if you're in a fibre area, if you're in a copper area, if you're in a more remote area and if you're relying on the fixed wireless networks, the industry is making sure that all of us, we have another capacity to continue to provide good connectivity to everyone.”

Essential services like hospitals and other emergency services are being prioritised.

“We're also doing a lot of work with a lot of other people. The Ministry of Education, for example, to try and connect to premises today who are not yet connected so that kids that are in those homes are able to continue to have an education as we move into those level four restrictions.”

Chorus will continue to perform connections and upgrades in locations that already have a fixed-line connection, but only if field resources are available.

“We have put a number of controls in place to identify situations where customers may be self-isolating, and any technicians who display any signs of illness are stood down and put into self-isolation immediately, along with their close contacts.”