27 Aug 2010

First rural broadband deal expected by year's end

7:16 am on 27 August 2010

The Government expects to sign the first deal to roll out fast broadband infrastructure to rural areas by the end of the year.

It is now calling for tenders from companies that can provide national coverage to the sector.

In the first stage of the tender process, the Government received 39 expressions of interests from companies interested in helping to roll out fast broadband infrastructure to rural areas.

But those companies were mainly regional providers.

Minister for Communications and Information Technology Steven Joyce says the regional bidders fell short of the Government's national rural broadband targets.

He says tenders from nationwide providers close in November and the Government expects the first agreement to be signed by the end of the year.

Under the Government's $500 million rural broadband initiative, more than 90% of schools would receive broadband at speeds of at least 100 megabytes per second, within six years.

More than 80% of rural households would have access to broadband with speeds of at least five megabytes per second.