21 Feb 2012

Cellphone coverage for more rural communities

2:04 pm on 21 February 2012

Three more rural communities will soon have cellphone coverage for the first time as part of a scheme running alongside the government's rural broadband initiative.

Waihau Bay on the East Cape of the North Island, and the North and South Catlins communities in the South Island have successfully applied to get their own cellphone towers, to be built by the Vodafone.

Vodafone launched the scheme last year to plug the gaps in services to rural communities that will not be covered by the Government's rural broadband rollout.

Part of that rollout involves Telecom and Vodafone providing 150 new cellphone towers within the next six years but Vodafone says 2% of rural households still won't be covered by those.

External communications manager Michelle Baguley says at least two more cellphone towers will be installed each year under the scheme.

She says the Waihau Bay and Catlins communities will have cellphone reception within a year.

Ms Baguley says Vodafone received 20 applications and plans to keep the scheme going for at least three years.

Meanwhile, the first of the 150 cellphone towers to be built as part of the rural broadband rollout has just been completed at Eureka, in Waikato.