Rural broadband and mobile coverage will service 99.8 per cent of the population, the Government has announced.
Regional economic development minister Shane Jones and broadcasting, communications and digital media minister Kris Faafoi have announced the additional coverage will roll out over the next four years due to an expansion of the Rural Broadband Initiative mobile black spots fund program.
“The $40 million contribution for this project from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) announced last month, will ensure this vital technology will be available in some of the most far-flung parts of provincial New Zealand,” said Jones.
Contracts with a total value of around $130 million have been entered into by Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to provide improved broadband to around 10,000 rural households and businesses, and to provide new mobile coverage to approximately 365 kilometres of State Highways and 59 tourism areas.
East Coast/Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, West Coast and Manawatū-Whanganui will have close to 100 per cent population coverage at the conclusion of the expansion.
The West Coast will receive more than 100 kilometres of new State Highway mobile coverage and Canterbury and Waikato will both receive nearly 50 kilometres of new mobile coverage.
The new mobile service will be available from all three mobile operators, improving public safety and tourism experiences. Tourism areas receiving new coverage including Pelorus Sound, Doubtful Sound and Hokitika Gorge.
The tender process is funded from $105 million of existing funding allocated towards the expansion and the additional investment of $40 million from the PGF announced by the Ministers on 15 November.
“Of this total, approximately $65 million will be spent in the regions that are the highest priority for investment in regional development from the PGF – Manawatū-Whanganui, Northland/Tai Tokerau, East Coast/Tairawhiti, Hawkes Bay, the Eastern Bay of Plenty and the West Coast," said Jones.
"All of this investment will be going directly into building new or upgraded digital connectivity infrastructure, which provides a critical base from which to build the economic growth we need in these areas."
Faafoi said it was also great to see the commitment of our regional Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISPs) community, where eight new partners will join the existing nine WISPs in the programme, covering a further 8,400 rural households and businesses.
"The WISPs have great local knowledge in their communities and provide a high-class service to many rural households who would otherwise be without broadband coverage," Faafoi added.