Much like UFO details coming out of Area 51 the details on UFB in NZ are similarly hard to come by. Sure everyone’s talking about it and we know there’s a chance we might make contact in our lifetimes but hard facts are few and far between. I am going to try and shed some light on what you need to get connected once the elusive fibre slithers past your door.

My experience has been a frustrating one. Not wanting to commit to a 24 month contract means shelling out hard earned cash for the ISP recommended device or going rogue and using a device your ISP doesn’t support. For some folks the equipment already sitting at home may do the job just fine but how do you know? The ISP’s are not coming to the party with any lists of compatible devices and with the way they set up UFB here the details from overseas aren’t entirely helpful.
General settings provided by your ISP are the first clue. Most if not all ISP’s offering UFB in NZ will tell you that you need a device that can be configured for PPPoE encapsulation and VLAN tagging which needs to be VLAN 10. As long as your device does that and you know your username and password for your ISP you should have no trouble (sarcasm?). You will need to have a reasonable level of technical IT know-how to set this up yourself.

• You may only need a router
If you aren’t planning to use VOIP (telephone over internet) then you don’t need a modem/router that supports it. If like me you just want internet, all you need is a router. Unlike ADSL broadband the signal coming via the Ethernet cable from the ONT does not need to go into a modem to be converted into what we call “the internet”. This is already done and all we want to do is route it to your devices by way of a cable or Wi-Fi.

• What devices are you connecting?
This will impact the specs you require from your router, Wi-Fi type and potential speed of data transfer. No need for lots of Gigabit Ethernet ports if you are only connecting over Wi-Fi and no need for super Wi-Fi coverage if you are in a one bedroom flat. You could save some money buying a device that only does what you need (but keep in mind you may want more options later on).

• Settings
As pointed out earlier there are only of couple of settings to configure; the PPPoE and the VLAN. Without these you won’t get the UFB working. The trouble is that a lot of manufacturers don’t make it easy to tell if their products are capable of VLAN Tagging. Overseas this seems less common than here in NZ so it’s not something the marketing team have put much effort into telling us. If buying a new router I would suggest seeing what’s available where you intend to shop then visiting the manufacturers’ website to look at whether the router supports VLAN Tagging before you make a purchase. If you are in store and the sales staff assure you it does then ask them to put it in writing so you have some comeback if they are wrong. VLAN Tagging can be achieved by way of a managed Ethernet switch or similar device before the router. This could make for a cheaper option but will require more set up and is recommended more for the tech savvy. My preference was a single router that could cope with all the settings itself.

When your fibre gets installed the LFC will run the fibre from the street to the outside of your house. This will be connected to an external box (ETP) where it comes into the house. Inside they will connect the fibre to the ONT sometimes housed in another box. The ONT will have a power adapter that you plug into a power point and an Ethernet cable that connects to the WAN port on your router. Your router then delivers the internet to your devices via another Ethernet cable connected to a LAN port or via Wi-Fi. This process will require visits from 2-3 different contractors and may take a couple of days once started as they can only progress as each stage is completed.

UFB_picWhatever ways you choose to go with your setup the key points are these;
• You MUST have the ability to configure VLAN TAGGING, and PPPoE settings on your device.
• You only NEED a router (depending on if you want to use VOIP or retain ADSL)
• Your ISP should be able to provide the details you need for the settings ie. Username and password.
• You configure settings by plugging your computer direct to the router via an Ethernet cable. Ensure you are disconnected from any networks and other devices so that your computer is only communicating with the device you are configuring.
• None of this matters if you buy the device from your ISP as it will come pre-configured in most cases (but what fun is that?!).
So that’s the basics on what you need to set yourself up with Ultra-Fast Broadband technology here in Aotearoa. Good luck.

UFB: Ultra-Fast Broadband
ISP: Internet Service Provider (often referred to as ‘RSP’ – Retail Service Provider)
LFC: Local Fibre Company eg. Chorus
ONT: Optical Network Termination Point (the modem thingy they connect the fibre to inside the house)
UFO: Unidentified Flying Object (usually piloted by small grey/green beings from space)
VOIP: Voice Over Internet Protocol (telephone service over the internet instead of old copper line)
MODEM: a combined device for modulation and demodulation (converts analogue signal from a telephone line to a digital signal the computer can understand)
ROUTER: A network device that forwards packets from one network to another (routes data to your device)
IT: Information Technology (do not confuse this with ET who is a friendly Alien)
MODEM ROUTER: A device that combines a Modem and Router in one unit.
WI-FI: a facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area
ETP: External Termination Point (the point where the service line or “drop” from the boundary connects to the premise)
ETHERNET: a system of wires and devices for connecting computers so that they can work together
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