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Broadband data and voice minutes skyrocket as Auckland re-enters lockdown - Vodafone
Tue, 18th Aug 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Fixed broadband data is up 33% and voice minutes up 45%, as Aucklanders return to lockdown, according to a Vodafone NZ network report.

Tony Baird, wholesale - infrastructure director at Vodafone NZ, says that while going into lockdown again in Auckland brings a vast array of challenges, it has been "pleasing to see Kiwis connecting with each other and utilising New Zealand's awesome digital infrastructure to work, learn and connect from home".

"Most interestingly, we've seen a distinct difference in data and phone use across the country over the past few days with the differing alert levels," he says.

"While all New Zealanders are utilising digital connectivity options more, with Auckland in alert level 3 lockdown we've seen Aucklanders turn to the internet and phones in droves."

 When comparing this Wednesday this week (12 August) with last Wednesday (5 August), fixed broadband data is up 33% in Auckland (alert level 3) compared to just 1% increase for the Rest of NZ (alert level 2).

However, customers have turned to their phones - with Aucklanders calling others the most. Mobile phone voice minutes (over 3G) are up 45% in Auckland, vs 32% across the Rest of NZ.

"At Vodafone NZ we've had a busy few days - again transitioning network operations and around-the-clock monitoring to being undertaken from home offices (or kitchen benches!) around Aotearoa," says Baird.

"It felt surreal changing our network carrier message back to “Vodafone - Stay Safe”, but we're working hard to keep New Zealanders connected."

The report found texting, MMS and mobile data were also up across Aotearoa.

"Text messages are having a ‘back to the future' moment, with a 31% increase in SMS messages sent on the Vodafone network since the PM's announcement on Tuesday night - with the weekly average up 6% overall compared to last week," says Baird.
"While MMS (picture messages) experienced a 21% spike initially also, and settled at 12% higher as an average compared to last week."

The report showed mobile data usage has also been steadily increasing, now up 24% during business hours across New Zealand as Kiwis turn to remote ways of staying connected and video calling picks back up.

"Interestingly, we're seeing international traffic ramp up also - particularly on the Tasman Global Access (TGA) cable connecting New Zealand (via Auckland) with Australia (via Sydney)."

Vodafone says customers were embracing remote working.

"Our team is almost entirely working from home including all teams across New Zealand as a precautionary measure, with the exception of retail staff," Baird says.

"This spans technology, customer care and corporate services - with just a handful of engineers and team members going onsite where it's essential to tend to critical infrastructure.

"So we ask customers to please use digital channels when contacting us, as stores in the greater Auckland area are closed other than for appointment only as Emergency Connectivity Hubs, and our call centre teams are using in-home technology instead of their usual office set-up," he says.

"Pleasingly, we had completed a number of new technology upgrades during alert level 1, which puts our customers in even better stead. This includes launching a super-high capacity fibre optic backbone, which can transmit vast amounts of data in incredibly fast speeds, and completing a number of cell site upgrades and builds.

"We're proud to keep New Zealand connected, however these additional network pressures come at a price in terms of longer-term network investments, delivered mostly to customers at no extra cost via unlimited/endless data plans.

"It's clear that going into lockdown again has significant financial implications for a vast range of New Zealand businesses - but ensuring Aotearoa stays connected digitally will continue to be our number one priority."