29 Apr 2020

Rural broadband network gets $15m investment

5:56 am on 29 April 2020

The government has allocated up to $15 million to improve rural broadband capacity.

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Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said investment in the rural network would help with the development and wellbeing of isolated communities as the economy recovers from Covid-19.

The investment has been allocated from the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative.

It will go towards upgrading some existing rural mobile towers, upgrading wireless backhaul, and installing external antennae on households to improve coverage.

"With the impacts of Covid-19 seeing increasing numbers of New Zealanders using broadband for education, work and maintaining links with friends and whānau, connectivity is more important than ever before.

"The government's aim is to provide access to around 99.8 percent of New Zealanders. However, while that work continues some households in isolated regions require reliable access to broadband services in light of Covid-19", Faafoi said.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said the fastest way to provide broadband to rural households was upgrading infrastructure.

There was coverage currently but the towers were at or near capacity, he said.

"Broadband connectivity is crucial for kickstarting economic activity in rural areas and the capacity upgrades are urgent.

"While New Zealand looks to put the economy on the path to recovery, we must ensure our rural communities aren't left behind," Jones said.

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