16 Mar 2010

Rural Women pleased with rural broadband expansion

9:57 pm on 16 March 2010

Rural Women New Zealand says it is pleased with a Government decision to extend the rollout of rural broadband beyond schools, to benefit the wider community.

However, the organisation says there is still some way to go before it will be satisfied that the rural community's broadband needs will be adequately met.

The Government has released its final plans for the rollout of high speed broadband in rural areas at a cost of $300 million, $48 million of which will be paid for by the Government and the rest by a new Telecommunications Development Levy on the industry.

Communications Minister Steven Joyce says he received a number of submissions from members of the public, who were concerned that too much emphasis had been placed on connecting schools rather than the wider rural community.

He says the Government changed the primary aim of the exercise so that most areas could have access to broadband speeds of at least 5 megabits per second, while those in very remote areas would be offered a service of at least 1 megabit per second.

Rural Women New Zealand's executive officer Noeline Holt, says this is a good first step.

But she says she would like to see the broadband rollout happen a lot more quickly than the six years indicated by the Government, which she says is too slow.