The Government is investing $270 million to roll out Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to 190 more small towns and extend rural broadband to another 74,000 households and businesses.
Simon Bridges, communications Minister says, “We’re also bringing the completion of the UFB network forward by two years.
“By the end of 2022, our UFB programme will provide more than four million New Zealanders with access to world-class internet.”
The massive investment is made up of $130 million to extend UFB to another 60,000 households and businesses in 190 new towns and complete the network by 2022.
As well as that $140 million to extend rural coverage of high-speed broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to another 74,000 rural households and businesses, and to deliver mobile coverage on 1000 kilometres of rural highways.
UFB uses fibre optic cables to deliver broadband to households and businesses.
It is most suitable and cost effective in urban areas with higher dwelling and business densities.
Bridges continues, “We started UFB in 2010 with the original goal of connecting 34 towns to world-class fibre-to-the-premises.
“Earlier this year we expanded it to 200 more towns and today’s announcement will bring us to 390.”
Because UFB is not feasible for every rural community, the RBI provides faster internet to homes and businesses outside UFB areas through a combination of fixed lines upgrades and new fixed wireless coverage.
Over 300,000 rural homes and businesses already have access to improved broadband under the first phase of RBI which was completed in June 2016.
Today’s funding announcement is in addition to the $150 million the Government has already allocated for rural broadband and mobile coverage.
The Mobile Black Spot Fund will improve public safety and visitor experiences by providing greater mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations where no coverage currently exists.
Bridges says, “We are providing coverage along remote parts of the State Highway network that until now had no coverage at all.
“Better connectivity in these remote areas will enhance visitor experiences at some of the country's tourist hotspots, such as Milford Sound, Cape Reinga and Bethells Beach.”
Together, the Rural Broadband and Mobile Black Spot programmes will be delivered through the construction of more than 450 new towers, in addition to the 150 already built.
The $270 million programme announced today will be funded by $240 million of recycled capital from earlier stages of the UFB programme and $30 million from the Telecommunications Development Levy.