Telco giants Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees have announced a joint proposal to make solid improvements to infrastructure surrounding rural broadband and mobile.
Together, the three providers have made a submission to the Government for the delivery of high speed broadband and mobile infrastructure using the Rural Broadband Initiative Extension (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund.
A successful outcome would see a massive investment of hundreds of millions of dollars by Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees over the course of the improvement project. An establishment capital contribution of $75 million is included to get the infrastructure in place.
Representatives from all three telecommunications providers spoke on the improvements to rural broadband and mobile access.
“Rural New Zealand is a key driver of our country’s economic growth and productivity and for these sectors to remain competitive they need fast broadband and mobile coverage – not just in offices, but on farms, in schools, and on the roads,” says Russell Stanners, Vodafone chief executive.
“The combination of the Government’s RBI funding and this investment by the three mobile network operators presents a once in a generation opportunity to deliver both competitive ultra-fast broadband and world class 4G mobile infrastructure to areas of New Zealand that today have neither.”
Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, agreed.
“Fast broadband and mobile connectivity is the lifeblood of the economy so making sure we can find a way to extend it deep into rural New Zealand is a critical task," he says.
“The reality is that Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees working together in this way provides the only economically viable way to deliver both quality mobile and wireless broadband infrastructure to the more challenging and remote rural areas of New Zealand.”
2degrees CEO Stewart Sherriff believes this is exactly what rural areas need.
“2degrees has a proud history of investment and innovation in New Zealand, we are therefore very happy to be part of this proposal to address the digital inequity between urban and rural communities,” he says.
“If successful this joint infrastructure investment bid will enable 2degrees to compete strongly to provide rural households and businesses – and domestic and international tourists – with the products and services they deserve”.
While 90% of living and working areas for New Zealanders are covered by existing mobile networks, remote areas of the country are still without mobile coverage. The project would see the addition of 500 new cell sites, resulting in a 25% increase in mobile land coverage across New Zealand.
High-speed broadband and quality mobile coverage would be made available for thousands of households and business in rural locations.
More than 1,200km of highway will also receive additional mobile coverage. The implications of this relate to better access to emergency services, with police, fire and ambulance officers being better equipped to coordinate from more remote locations.
Tourism benefits are also expected, with an extension of the tourism sector’s ability to promote the country internationally, and visitors having an easier time sharing their New Zealand experience with friends and family worldwide.