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Chorus has over 50% of NZ broadband on fibre

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(Image: Chorus)

New Zealand telco wholesaler Chorus has disclosed that of its almost 1.2 million broadband connections, 600,000 use fibre GPON connections.

The remaining half of the Shaky Isles is split between 270,000 VDSL connections and 327,000 ADSL connections.

Chorus said in an update to the ASX that as of June 30, it had 58,000 customers on 1Gbps connections, which it wholesales for NZ$60 per month.

A recent New Zealand Commerce Commission report found 1Gbps Fibre Max speeds in the country delivered 550Mbps in off-peak times, and 525Mbps in peak times.

For these plans, the numbers translate to 62% off-peak and 58% peak advertised speeds.  

“A major contributor to the relative underperformance of the Fibre Max services during peak hours is the interconnection issue,” the report said.

“Excluding the results of the one RSP with the interconnection issue, would only see Fibre Max reach 72.3% peak hours.” 

Broken out by market share for fibre users on Wednesday, Chorus said 1Gbps plans had 10% of the market, while 71% sat on NZ$46 wholesale 100Mbps plans. The company also had around 10% on NZ$42.50 per month 50Mbps plans, and a sliver of its users were on 200Mbps plans that wholesale for NZ$55 per month.

The company added its peak data usage on its network had now exceeded over 2Tbps, an increase of 77% on the levels posted two years ago, and is currently undertaking 10GPON trials with retailers which could see speeds top out at 10Gbps.

In February, Chorus said the trial would be across residential and small and medium-sized businesses with fibre connections in Auckland and Wellington, and make use of Nokia’s XGS-PON fibre technology.

Overall, New Zealand Ultra-Fast Broadband network is now 80% complete, with average uptake sitting at 53% of premises.

The UFB is planned to provide fibre-to-the-premise to 87% of the nation by 2022, representing 1.8 million premises.

Across the ditch, Australia’s National Broadband Network is aiming to connect 12 million premises by 2022, of which only a tad over 2 million are set to be fibre-to-the-premise.

Almost half of the remaining 10 million will be connected with either fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the-basement, 2.5 million will be on hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), 1.4 million should have fibre-to-the-curb, 600,000 will be on fixed wireless, and 400,000 will use NBN’s satellites for connectivity.

On Wednesday morning, NBN announced it had conducted a DOCSIS 3.1 test on a customer’s HFC line at Templestowe, Victoria that clocked in at 994Mbps.

“This is an important day for NBN. It shows how a specific technology — HFC — is evolving to meet customer demand for greater capacity from their broadband connection over time,” NBN chief technology officer Ray Owen said.

“As we work to complete our network rollout, we’re constantly looking at what’s over the horizon for all of our technology assets and how we can evolve our network as demand grows.”

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Fisker and Foxconn team on new EV with outsized ambitions

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Fisker and Foxconn are teaming up on an an electric vehicle, with the EV-company and the manufacturing heavyweight aiming for go far beyond the niche production in the automaker’s past. Codenamed Project PEAR – or “Personal Electric Automotive Revolution” – the goal is to make a more affordable EV that can hit the sort of sales numbers more commonplace among mainstream gas models.

Fisker is probably best known for its role in the style-forward Karma hybrid sedan, a project now being run independently by Karma Automotive. Plans rebooted, Fisker first unveiled the EMotion EV back in 2018, a striking luxury electric sedan with double-gullwing doors.

Production for that, though, was put on the back-burner, as Fisker turned instead to more affordable, mainstream fare. The Fisker Ocean is promised to be a sub-$40k electric SUV, with the car company inking a deal with auto parts behemoth Magna to build the plug-in. Manufacturing is expected to begin in Q4 2022, and even without a production-ready prototype shown – something Fisker says will happen later this year – there are apparently upwards of 12k paid reservations for the car.

One vehicle does not an automaker make, though, and so Fisker is looking to its next model. That’ll be jointly developed by it and Foxconn, sold under the Fisker brand, and included as part of Fisker’s Flexee Lease program. Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing, bringing the same heft that powers iPhone production to automotive.

Project PEAR – details on which are scant, currently – will be “destined for multiple global markets” Fisker said today. Production is currently earmarked for Q4 2023, and it’ll be the second EV in Fisker’s range.

Fisker’s ambitions aren’t exactly low. The expectation is that it’ll take just 24 months to develop the car, including research and development, and becoming production-ready. That’s about half the time most automakers would expect to take. Foxconn hasn’t been shy about its EV hopes in the past, either, already cutting deals with Byton and Fiat Chrysler in the past on electric vehicle technology.

“The key success elements of electric vehicle development include the electric motor, electric control module and battery,” Young-way Liu, Foxconn Technology Group Chairman, said today in a statement. “We have two major advantages in this regard, with an exceptional vertically integrated global supply chain and the best supply chain management team in our industry.”

Discussions are underway between the firms, with a formal partnership expected to be signed in Q2 2021. The two firms are aiming high, too, with projected 250,000 annual volume of the vehicle. Exactly what it will look like, cost, how much range it might pack, where it will launch, and other details are still in short supply: Fisker’s design inspiration sketch would seem to imply a crossover of some sort, a sensible choice given the skew of sales right now toward that category.

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2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has more range, more power, and a lower base price

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That’s right. Mitsubishi will continue selling the 2021 Outlander PHEV alongside the all-new, Rogue-based 2022 Outlander. The Japanese carmaker is burning the midnight oil in conceptualizing a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) based on the new model, but Mitsubishi is not leaving anything to chance.

The carmaker is making sure it has a crossover PHEV in its lineup for customers, and is the reason why you’ll find the 2021 Outlander PHEV together with the new 2022 Outlander in Mitsubishi showrooms.

Nevertheless, Mitsubishi’s making sure you get the most bang for your buck in the 2021 Outlander PHEV. It starts with a more robust and fuel-efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine producing 126 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Next, the previous 60 kW rear-mounted electric motor makes way for a more potent 70 kW unit.

As expected, the power figures are quite generous for a midsize crossover. The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV’s advanced hybrid powertrain pumps out 221 horsepower, 31 more horses than the outgoing model. It also has a more significant 13.8 kWh battery pack (the old model had a 12.0 kWh battery), boosting the all-electric range from 22 to 24 miles.

Admittedly, the 2-miles range boost is small by modern EV standards. But for most people, it’s enough to cover a trip to a grocery or convenience store without burning a drop of fuel. And since the new Outlander PHEV has a better range, it now qualifies for larger tax incentives depending on where you live.

Sold in three trim models, the base 2021 Outlander PHEV SEL-AWC starts at $37,490 (including $1,195 destination fees). It now qualifies for up to $6,587 in federal incentives, increasing around $750 over the old model, further lowering the MSRP.

Meanwhile, the Outlander PHEV LE S-AWC has base prices starting at $39,190, while the range-topping GT S-AWC model starts at $43,190 before federal and state credits. The former adds a blacked-out grille, a sunroof, bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels, and blacked-out bumpers. The good news? Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is available to order now.

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Oshkosh Defense wins USPS contract to modernize postal delivery vehicle fleet

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The United States Postal Service has announced that it has awarded a contract to Oshkosh Defense worth multiple billions of dollars to modernize the postal delivery vehicle fleet. We’ve all seen the vehicles that the USPS uses currently as they deliver mail around cities all over the country. Under the contract award, Oshkosh Defense will finalize the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) design.

The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it had awarded the 10-year contract to Oshkosh Defense, marking a move to make the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in over 30 years. The massive investment in new vehicles is part of a new plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next decade. In addition to massive investments in vehicles, the plan also includes investments in people, technology, and infrastructure.

Oshkosh Defense will see an initial $482 million investment to finalize the production design of the NGDV, which is a purpose-built right-hand-driving vehicle for mail and package delivery. Oshkosh Defense will build between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over the next decade. All vehicles will feature either a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine or battery-electric powertrain.

In models that use a battery-electric powertrain, they will be able to be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technology. That means the vehicles can be upgraded as technology improves rather than replaced. Money from the initial investment is allotted for plant tooling and build-out for the US manufacturing facility where final vehicle assembly will happen.

Currently, the Postal Service fleet has more than 230,000 vehicles in every class, including purpose-build and commercial-off-the-shelf vehicles. About 190,000 of those vehicles deliver mail between six and seven days per week in every US community around the country. Many of the vehicles in the USPS fleet have been in service for 30 years. The Postal Service expects the first NGDV vehicles to appear on routes in 2023.

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