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Rural Capacity Upgrade programme expansion to benefit 30,000 homes

2 Dec 2022

Around 30,000 rural homes and communities will soon have access to faster, improved connectivity with an expansion of the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme, the New Zealand government has announced. Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor and Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications David Clark said 21 new contracts signed by Crown Infrastructure Partners will accelerate upgrades to towers and broadband connections in areas with poor coverage.

‘This will significantly improve current homes and businesses and boost economic productivity of those with a slow unreliable and sometimes unusable connection,’ Clark said, adding: ‘We’re committed to improving rural connectivity and are on track to see 99.8% of New Zealanders receive access to improved broadband as a result of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) rollout, Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), Marae Digital Connectivity programme, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF) by the end of 2023.’

The government has also released the ‘Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa’ paper, which sets out its high-level connectivity vision for New Zealand over the next decade. This includes the goal that all New Zealanders have access to high speed connectivity networks, and that the country is in the top 20% of nations in respect to international connectivity measures (such as those of the OECD).

JB Rousselot, CEO of wholesale fixed line provider Chorus, said rural households currently outside the UFB footprint should be encouraged by the white paper. ’There’s a growing demand for unconstrained, high-capacity broadband and a renewed case to take fibre further and reach many of the predominately rural homes and businesses not yet covered. It is heartening that the government not only recognises this demand but now has identified some key principles to support the further rollout of fibre,’ he noted. Approximately 87% of the country’s population will have access to fibre broadband services following completion of the UFB programme at the end of this month.

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