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New Zealand: Once you arrive - Must read

Setting up broadband and phone services in New Zealand

Cable provide a simple guide for international students arranging broadband internet and phone services once they’ve arrived in New Zealand...

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New Zealand’s internationally renowned universities attract students from far and wide. With pristine landscapes and lively cities to explore, New Zealand offers a great experience for any visitor, and has also been consistently rated as one of the best countries in the world for education.


But no matter where you visit and where you choose to study, you’re bound to want to get online and contact the folks back home. Setting these up in a country as isolated and disparate as New Zealand might seem difficult. So to help make the process as simple and straightforward as possible, here is everything you need to know about setting up your own broadband and mobile connections in New Zealand.


How do I get a mobile, landline or broadband deal in New Zealand?

When signing up for telecoms services in New Zealand, international students and residents alike are subject to credit checks. As a visitor, you won’t need to establish a new credit history because providers will be able to access your existing credit score. So if you have a good credit rating at home, that will carry through to your student life in New Zealand.


There are dozens of broadband, mobile, and phone providers in New Zealand. Some of the most popular include Vodafone, 2degrees, Skinny Mobile and Telecom New Zealand. You can look them up online for information about their products. Alternatively, you can use an online comparison service based in New Zealand, such as Telme.org.nz or Priceme.co.nz.


Who can I get broadband from in New Zealand?

There are dozens of internet service providers in New Zealand offering a variety of ways to get online. The majority of residential broadband customers in the country are with Telecom New Zealand or Vodafone. Both are good choices for international students looking for a reliable internet connection, with a range of download speeds and prices. Vodafone will be a familiar name for students travelling from Europe and the USA, and Telecom New Zealand (soon to be rebranded ‘Spark’) holds a similar position to BT in the UK.


Contract lengths generally last between 12 and 24 months for home broadband. If you’re staying for a shorter time, a few providers offer one-month contracts. Students based in the North Island can sign up for one-month broadband with Inspire, and students on the South Island can find broadband with no contract from Flip.


Broadband speeds vary depending on where you are staying. Fibre optic broadband gives the fastest download speeds (up to 100Mbps with Telecom New Zealand) but is generally restricted to densely populated areas, such as Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Rural areas can receive broadband through pre-existing phone lines or via satellite from providers such as Farmside and Wireless Nation.


What’s the best way for me to call home from New Zealand?

It can be expensive calling home from New Zealand using your existing mobile handset and SIM. Any calls you make will be subject to roaming charges. These charges can quickly build up on a pay-monthly SIM. Even worse, if you don’t turn off data roaming on your handset, you could be charged for automatic updates downloaded through New Zealand’s extensive wireless networks.


Instead of using your SIM from home, it works out cheaper to join one of New Zealand’s mobile networks. There are plenty of mobile providers to choose from, and the three most popular are New Zealand Telecom, Vodafone, and 2degrees. These providers offer a range of mobile plans at different prices. You can choose to pay monthly, through Prepay (similar to Pay As You Go), or with a carryover plan. Carryover plans are available with 2degrees, and let you ‘carry over’ any unused minutes or texts from one month to the next.


If you don’t want to call home with your mobile, you can join a provider offering international calls from your landline. Affordable international plans are available from New Zealand Telecom and Slingshot.


Another cheap option involves the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software, such as Skype. If your friends and family have the same VoIP software as you, it’s easy to contact them over the internet, and even better, you won’t have to pay a penny to make the call.


What are my rights as a consumer in New Zealand?

Consumer rights in New Zealand are similar to those in the EU and USA. The 1993 Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) states that goods and services (including broadband, home phone, and mobile plans) must be of acceptable quality, be fit for purpose, and must match any description given. Any retailer or provider that breaches the CGA is required by law to compensate you.


If you have a problem with your mobile, broadband or home phone provider that cannot be directly remedied through their complaints procedure, you can contact the Telecommunication Dispute Resolution (TDR) service. The TDR is specifically set up to help solve complaints and issues with telecom suppliers in New Zealand, and doesn’t charge you for dealing with disputes.


Is there anything else I should know?

In the indigenous Māori language, New Zealand is known as Aotearoa, which means ‘land of the long white cloud’. Now that the term ‘cloud’ has come to refer to wireless internet, this name has never been more apt. If you’re staying in one of New Zealand’s major cities you will be able to access the Wi-Fi cloud at one of the many wireless hotspots. New Zealand’s telecoms providers usually operate these hotspots, so you may have to sign up with them to use the hotspots through your laptop or mobile device.



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