18 Aug 2020

Work starts on regional fibre links in West Coast and Southland

2:05 pm on 18 August 2020

Work is under way to improve communication and digital connectivity on the West Coast and Southland.

Urban v Rural broadband.

Photo: 123RF

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones confirmed work has started on two regional fibre links funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

The links will run about 240km between Fox Glacier and Lake Hāwea and about 120km from Te Anau to Milford Sound.

It is expected to enable Haast to be added to the ultra-fast broadband rollout and for businesses along the highway from Te Anau to Milford Sound to access better broadband and mobile services.

That has been co-ordinated with other projects in the repairs on the highway and Homer Tunnel upgrade to make fibre available at mobile sites along the road.

The link between Fox Glacier to Lake Hāwea will generally follow State Highway 6, providing an alternative route to existing fibre and backhaul to mobile and wireless sites along the route.

In total, about 187km of mobile black spots in both regions are expected to have improved coverage.

Jones said the links would upgrade coverage, capacity and resilience of critical telecommunications in areas with mobile black spots.

"Investment in high-quality communications infrastructure proved its worth to New Zealand during the Covid-19 lockdown and will also underpin the economic recovery," he said.

Additional PGF funding will be provided to Chorus to build fibre in homes in Haast once the link is completed.

Both are expected to be completed in 2022.