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Better digital connectivity coming for West Coast and Southland - Shane Jones

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Work has begun on two regional fibre links funded by the Provincial Growth Fund which will enable upgraded communication services on the West Coast and Southland, as well as improving resilience in the event of network damage, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.

The links will run between Fox Glacier and Lake Hawea for approximately 240km, and from Te Anau to Milford Sound for approximately 120km.

"The upgraded capacity and resilience these new fibre links will provide to the West Coast and Southland are a further example of the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving critical telecommunications infrastructure nationwide, as well as specifically boosting investment in the regions," Shane Jones said.

"Investment in high-quality communications infrastructure proved its worth to New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown and will also underpin the economic recovery."

As well as enabling new and upgraded broadband services and providing backhaul to mobile and wireless sites along the route, the Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea link will also provide an alternative route to existing fibres which are primarily on the East Coast of the South Island. The new link will generally follow State Highway 6.

This link will also enable Haast township to be added to the Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout. Crown Infrastructure Partners is providing further Provincial Growth Fund money to Chorus to build fibre to the homes in Haast when the link is completed.

Businesses in Milford Sound and along the route to Te Anau will also benefit from enhanced broadband and mobile services. This new link will generally follow State Highway 94.

Chorus will ensure co-ordination with other Government-led projects in the region, including working with NZTA and the Milford Road Alliance to align the build with repairs being made to the Milford - Te Anau Highway and the recently announced shovel-ready Homer Tunnel Upgrade, and working with the Rural Connectivity Group to make the fibre available to mobile sites along the routes.

It is expected that the Fox-Hawea fibre link will be completed in the first half of 2022 and the Milford link by the end of 2022.

Fibre backhaul services over both fibre links will be available to other telecommunications operators on an open access basis.

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