Monday, April 22, 2024

Govt to deliver rural connectivity

Some of New Zealand’s most remote communities are set to receive broadband for the first time thanks to a new Government-led initiative.

The Remote Users Scheme will equip as many remote households as possible with the connectivity infrastructure needed to access broadband services, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark, announced today.

“Whilst these locations might be off the grid, it doesn’t mean they can’t be connected to it in some way,” Mr Clark said.

“In some of these communities, there is currently only access to voice calling and txt services. In other locations, there is internet – but the speed of it is incredibly slow and its use is limited.

“As the global cost of living crisis puts pressure on New Zealanders and their families, a reliable connection will make it easier for remote businesses to operate, pay invoices and network.

“From a social standpoint, this new scheme will also help connect people to online health services and educational tools.”

Through Budget 2022, $15 million was allocated towards funding the Remote Users Scheme, as part of the broader $60 million rural connectivity package announced earlier in the year.

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) will administer the Remote Users Scheme and will soon be calling for applications from potentially eligible households and communities. A request for proposal from internet service providers will follow. It is expected that new broadband connectivity infrastructure for the eligible areas and households can begin being built in mid-2023.

“This initiative is another step forward in improving connectivity for Kiwis, complementing the significant progress made on the Government’s connectivity programmes over the past five years,” the Minister said.

“Since the launch of the RBI2 initiative, over 75,000 rural homes and businesses have been provided with improved broadband connectivity, 364 new mobile towers have been built in rural areas, and 591 marae have received broadband connections. We have also connected 95 tourism sites and provided 1,059kms of rural state highway with mobile coverage,” he said.

Further information about the Remote Users Scheme is available on the Crown Infrastructure Partner’s website.

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