Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Clear plan for congested rural broadband

A major effort to upgrade capacity on congested rural broadband networks has been unveiled by the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark.

The Rural Capacity Upgrade will see existing cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas. 

“By the end of 2024 around 47,000 rural households and businesses should experience faster internet speeds and better reception than they do right now,” Mr Clark said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us reliable internet is critical to being able to work, learn and socialise from our homes. Having been through lockdowns, it’s clear some rural networks had real trouble adapting to the extra usage.”

As part of the initiative, 13 private sector contractors have signed contracts with Crown Infrastructure Partners to carry out the work. The programme will be funded with the $47 million from the Government’s COVID Response and Recovery Fund.

“Government’s actions to protect lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic has proven to be the best economic decision. However, today’s announcement will further help us secure our economic recovery.”

“With these upgrades, rural businesses will have the tools to be more innovative and productive. We can also improve health and safety for New Zealanders and their families through remote health consultations, facilitate remote learning and help maintain social and family connections.

“For those businesses, farms, marae, and households that aren’t captured by current rural broadband initiatives, such as the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, the initiative launched today will be of great benefit.”

At the completion of all current connectivity initiatives in 2024, 99.8% of New Zealanders will have seen an improvement to their broadband services, the Minister said. 

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