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Govt to increase broadband connectivity in remote areas

18 Nov 2022

Some of New Zealand’s most remote communities will receive broadband for the first time thanks to a new government-led initiative. The Remote Users Scheme (RUS) will equip as many remote households as possible with the connectivity infrastructure needed to access broadband services, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark announced on Thursday. ‘Whilst these locations might be off the grid, it doesn’t mean they can’t be connected to it in some way,’ the Minister said, noting NZD15 million (USD9.2 million) was allocated to the scheme in the 2022 budget as part of the broader NZD60 million rural connectivity package announced earlier in the year.

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) will administer the RUS and will soon be calling for applications from potentially eligible households and communities. Through the initiative, eligible households and communities in the country’s most remote areas – where broadband is not currently available and there is only access to voice calling and text services – will be able to apply for support. The RUS will also be available in rural areas with poor internet coverage. The first phase of the scheme aims to provide a broadband internet service to an area by extending existing networks. Those still without coverage after this has been done may be eligible to receive a one-off grant of up to NZD2,000 towards set up and installation costs of a suitable broadband solution. It is expected that new broadband connectivity infrastructure for the eligible areas and households can begin being built in mid-2023.

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