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Internetnz Welcomes Government Rural Broadband Targets

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Media Release 10 September 2009

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) is encouraged by the announcement of Government targets for rural broadband, seeing them as an essential complement to the urban plans anticipated under the $1.5 billion ultra fast broadband investment initiative.

InternetNZ spokesperson Jordan Carter says "this announcement fills a worrying gap in government policies that would have seen the emergence of an even wider digital divide between urban and rural New Zealand. It is very welcome."

The extension of fibre backhaul in rural areas will be a significant benefit to the communities served. New Zealander's heavy reliance on dial-up has been an embarrassing component in international comparisons of Internet access, and has limited the economic and social development options available to Kiwis outside urban areas.

Carter says the tighter roll-out timetable for rural areas is reasonable given the importance of the rural community to the New Zealand economy and the approach of establishing a fibre connection to the majority of rural schools has obvious additional benefits for children's education.

"Speeds of 100Mbps will provide for opportunities such as virtual education, greater sharing of educational resources and enhanced multimedia usage. Given that it is fibre, it is upgradable to faster speeds and we can imagine significant change in how education may be delivered."

"This announcement does raise some questions that should be explained in further detail, which we hope the Government will release soon. For example, the balance of public and private funding for the estimated $300m cost, which we understand is in addition to the existing $1.5bn commitment to fast broadband.

InternetNZ would also like to see more thought go into how to get the ultra-fast broadband to other rural facilities, businesses, farms and rural dwellers, rather than be limited to speeds of 5Mbps or 1Mpbs, which would appear to be some sort of copper-based solution.

"InternetNZ hopes that rural communities in conjunction with Government can consider innovative ways of getting fibre all the way to their homes and businesses, noting that wireless will also play a role for the more in-accessible areas."

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